The Tales After Tolkien Society formed after two eponymous sessions at the 2013 Kalamazoo International Medieval Congress. The original sessions focussed on the medievalisms of twenty-first century fantasy literature, but the society expands on this to include all popular genres, including but not limited to: fantasy, science fiction, westerns, romance, horror, crime, historical, children’s and young adult fiction, and cross-genre writing. The Tales After Tolkien Society recognizes the foundational place J. R. R. Tolkien’s work has not only for the fantasy genre, but for popular medievalisms far more widely.


Contributions are sought for an edited collection titled Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism and Genre in the Twenty-First Century. The collection explores the ways popular genres engage with the history and literature of the Middle Ages, and with the very idea of ‘the medieval.’ What are the intersections of medievalism and genre in modern popular culture?

The questions chapters might ask include, but are not limited to: how genre conventions shape the use of medieval material and vice versa? In what ways do contemporary social, cultural and political issues intersect with the medieval in popular genres? How do authors approach the Middle Ages and medieval material? What is the role of audience expectations and beliefs? Is historical authenticity important, to whom does it matter, and how is it defined?

Chapters may focus on any popular genre, but contributions exploring romance, horror, mystery, and historical, westerns, cross-genre works or comparing genres are especially welcome. They may focus on works in any medium, e.g. fiction, film, television, graphic novels, and games, or consider multi- or transmedia medievalisms. Chapters exploring fan communities, audiences, and adaptations are also welcome. They should focus on works first published in the twenty-first century, although series which began before that date could also be considered, as could comparisons of recent works with earlier publications.

Chapters will be 6,000 to 7,000 words, including all footnotes, references etc, with first drafts due 1st June 2014, and final versions on 1st October 2014. The volume will be offered to Cambria Press, which has expressed interest in seeing the manuscript proposal.

In the first instance, an abstract of approximately 300 words along with a brief CV should be sent to Helen.young@sydney.edu.au by 8th January, 2014. Any queries may be directed to the same address.

Mission Statement
We aim to promote scholarship exploring any and all ways in which popular fiction genres engage with the Middle Ages. What does ‘medieval’ mean in different genres? Why and how does it change or stay the same? How are contemporary social and cultural concerns connected with medieval material in genre writing? Do genre conventions impact the ways we re-make the Middle Ages? The Tales After Tolkien Society aims to connect scholars and build a community of those working on medievalisms in genre literature, and to promote their work.

Original Session Details
48th International Congress on Medieval Studies
Western Michigan University
(Kalamazoo, MI)

  • Session 1, 8.30am Sunday 12th May, 2013 Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism and Twenty-First Century Fantasy Literature I
    Organizer: Helen Young, University of Sydney
    Presider: Carol L. Robinson, Kent State University, Trumbull
    • Refracted Romance: Re-visioning the Grail Legend in Catherine Fisher’s Corbenic
      Molly Brown, University of Pretoria
    • George R. R. Martin’s Quest for Realism in A Song of Ice and Fire
      Shiloh R. Carroll, Middle Tennessee State University
    • Androgynes, Crossdressers, and Rebel Queens: Modern Representations of Medieval Women Warriors form Tolkien to Martin
      Rachael Mueller: Catholic University of America
    • The Meaning of the Middle Ages: Fans, Authors, and Industry
      Helen Young, University of Sydney
  • Session 2, 10.30am Sunday 12th May, 2013 Tales After Tolkien: Medievalism and Twenty-First Century Fantasy Literature II
    Organizer: Helen Young, University of Sydney
    Presider: Douglas A. Anderson
    • Pratchett’s The Last Continent and Nominalist Questions
      Jay Ruud, University of Central Arkansas
    • A Divergent Medievalism in Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man Trilogy
      Geoffrey B. Eliot, Technical Career Institutes
    • Black and Liminal in Camelot
      Kris Swank, Mythgard Institute
    • The Hunger Games: Reinterpretation of a Medieval Quest Narrative
      Stephanie Amsel, Southern Methodist University

Membership is free, and is open to anyone who is interested in the medievalisms of twenty-first century popular genre fictions.
Please contact Helen Young for information and to be added to our mailing list helen.young@sydney.edu.au