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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

b) Medioevo cinematografico / Cinematographic Middle Ages

3) Fifty shades of Lincoln Green: the intersection of medievalism and fetish culture in Robin Hood on screen

Sabina Rahman

Texte intégral

1In Medievalism, David Matthew uses The Knight errant by Sir John Everett Millais to epitomise the differences and the connection between the grotesque and romantic Middle Ages as depicted in post-medieval texts, which work under the assumption that anything medieval involves the grotesque threat of violence and warped sexuality while also assuming that the threat of sexual violence is in itself somehow medieval. The image also depicts the Romantic Middle Ages which, Matthews notes, “concedes that violence against women exists [but] also proposes that help is at hand in the form of knights, shining armour, and chivalry.” In this paper, I suggest that this collision of grotesque and romantic medievalisms in the same place creates a space that is left open to fetishisation and forms the basis of kinky medievalism, which can be demonstrated through an analysis of popular post-medieval Robin Hood adaptations. I analyse televisual and cinematic Robin Hoods to identify a shift in the “warped sexuality” that is depicted on screen from non-consensual sexual violence to encoding deliberate and consensual powerplays that are representative of kink and fetish on screen and their intersections with broader popular on-screen fetish texts, most notably the adaption of E. L. James’ Fifty shades trilogy. Ultimately, the paper suggests that although the Middle Ages represented in Robin Hood texts can be an era of repression through powerlessness that requires violent action and sympathetic chivalry, these ideas of power, violence, and chivalry have been adapted through the lens of medievalism to represent an alternative sexuality that is decreasingly encoded as warped and increasingly mainstream.


2James, Fifty Shades
Matthews 2015


Macquarie University

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