This collection is designed to open up a new field of acadamic and general interest: Australian medievalism. That is, the heritage and continuing influence of medieval and gothic themes, ideas and narratives in Australian culture. Geographically removed from Europe, and distinguished by its eighteeth-century colonial settlement, Australia is a fascinating testing-ground on which to explore the cultural residues of medieval heritage and tradition. These traditions take distinctive form, once they have been 'transported' to a different topographical setting, and a cultural context whose relationship with Europe has always been dynamic and troubled. Early colonists attempted to make the unfamiliar landscape of Australia familiar by inscribing it with European traditions: in contrast, modern gothic and medievalist re-enactment groups celebrate their own modernity and their separation from tradition by consciously embracing the medieval and the gothic as an opportunity for postmodernist pastiche or simulation. The contributors represent a range of scholarly disciplines and traditions. Their subject matter includes the early narratives of Australian discovery, and the settlement of what was perceived as a hostile, gothic environment; exercises in medieval revivalism comtemporaneous with the British nineteenth-century rediscovery of chivalric ideals and aesthetic, spiritual and architectural practices and models; the conscious invocation of medieval and gothic tropes in Australian fiction and poetry, including some Aboriginal fiction and children's literature; the transformation of the medieval and the gothic fantasy literature, role-playing games and subcultural groups, and finally, the implications of medieval and gothic tropes for discussion of Australian nationalism.
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