Sponsored by The Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain, the "Matter of Britain on Screen" blog is designed as an aid to explorations of the transformations undergone by the Matter of Britain as it is translated to film, television, and related electronic media, such as games and internet video.
Excalibur is not a thing, something you can hold in your hand.
Excalibur is the good in you.
The power to do good, to stand up for what's right, to slay dragons, to capture bank robbers.
You always carry Excalibur in your heart.
Robert Tinnell, Kids of the Round Table (1995)
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Kalamazoo 2018 Update
The Alliance proposed the following roundtable for the 2018 International Congress on Medieval Studies. I have just learned today that our proposal was rejected. Michael A.Torregrossa Founder
Does the Matter of Britain (Still) Matter?:
Reflections on the State of Arthurian Studies Today
The Arthurian legend is now over a
millennium and a half old and continues to inspire new creative works each
year. However, texts with widespread distribution and/or lasting impact are
rare. Consequently, the Matter of Britain now seems very distant from our daily
The purpose of this session is to
explore the reasons for this separation of the stories of Arthur from the
popular consciousness. In conceiving this session, we are interested in
exploring the answers to several questions. First, why has the Matter of
Britain—once an important part of what J. R. R. Tolkien has termed “the
cauldron of story”—now become something that is sampled by few artists with the
means to promote their work to the larger segment of the global population that
once devoured such stories with enthusiasm? Continuing with this idea, do these
works, when noticed, not receive acclaim simply because of their creators’
failure to overcome what Norris J. Lacy has termed the “tyranny of tradition” and
produce something that is both recognizable and innovative, or has the legend truly
become a niche brand, a fascination to a few cognoscenti but something totally
off the radar of most individuals? Similarly, when versions of the legend are
produced by individuals with the means to create something that transcends the financial
and distributive restrictions that hold back other works (and that might thus have
the potential to shape how the current generation perceives the Arthurian
story), why do they so often not succeed? Have these creators also simply failed
to negotiate the tyranny of tradition, or are audiences at large just not
interested in Arthur and all that he represents anymore? Lastly, if the legend
no longer appeals, what is the future of Arthurian Studies (and Arthurian
scholars) in the remainder of the twenty-first century? Should we entrench
ourselves and hope for the best, or can we fight for our field and the glory
that was Camelot?
Alliance for the Promotion of Research on the Matter of Britain is dedicated to
study and debate of the representations of the Arthurian legends in all their
forms as produced from the Middle Ages through tomorrow. In various
incarnations, our organization has been in existence since 2000.