"The past is a foreign country": the Australian Middle Ages

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This essay argues that a dialectic of proximity and distance has long been the distinguishing principIe of Australian medievalism. On the one hand, local conditions of distance from Europe have granted Australian medievalism a distinctive interpretive freedom; yet because it is a legacy of British colonialism, this medievalism also reflects Australia's sense of continuity with its medieval European heritage. Tracing this dialectic through a range of more sophisticated and self-consciously 'Australian' engagements with the Middle Ages, this essay also makes a case for examining Australia's throwaway medievalism for what it can tell us about the dominant tastes and ideological concerns that have shaped Australian attitudes to the medieval past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-356
Number of pages38
JournalRevista de poética medieval
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • British colonialism
  • medievalism
  • Anglo-Saxonism
  • literature
  • popular culture


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