Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
First-Year Seminar


FYS Section A14. "Knights and Damsels and Dragons, Oh My!": The Middle Ages in Popular Culture

The Middle Ages continue to capture our imagination. More than seven million viewers regularly tuned into the medievalesque HBO series Game of Thrones; the $281 million invested in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy brought in nearly $3 billion in box office revenue. Every generation produces its own King Arthur and Robin Hood movies, while thousands of people worldwide dress up and reenact the Middle Ages. How did we get here? How can we be nostalgic for a world in which we never lived? This first-year seminar will explore how the medieval world is presented through film, fiction, and participatory activities in the later twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We will not be concerned so much with learning about medieval history (what actually happened 500–1500 CE), as with what contemporary popular culture implies about that past period and what it reveals about us as a society.

Dana M. PolanichkaDana M. Polanichka
Associate Professor of History