Round Table: Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake: Medievalism, Ecology, and Identity
Paul Kingsnorth’s Booker-Prize-longlisted novel The Wake (2014) is set in England in the years immediately after the Norman Conquest. Written in a constructed ‘shadow tongue’ (shorn of post-Conquest vocabulary) that evokes Anglo-Saxon English, it tells the story of a rebel band in East Anglia under the leadership of the fictional Buccmaster that parallels the historical rising led by Hereward the Wake. Kingsnorth is also well known as a writer and activist on globalization and environmental issues.
The Wake presents fruitful but also problematic areas for discussion among scholars and activists - one reviewer has stated that “Anglo-Saxon scholars either love or hate” the work (http://www.theguardian.com/
books/2015/dec/30/top-10- modern-medieval-tales-georg- rr-martin-umberto-eco).
Questions to be addressed by an inter-disciplinary panel might include:
- Does Kingsnorth’s use of a ‘shadow tongue’ overcome or strengthen the sense of the alienation between the Anglo-Saxon subject matter and his modern audience?
- Is Kingsnorth’s evocation of Anglo-Saxon England a progressive statement of solidarity with indigenous peoples in the face of globalization, or a reactionary reinvention of a ‘Merrie England’ purified of modern and foreign influences?
- How far does Kingsnorth’s Buccmaster stand in the tradition of medieval and medievalist outlaws such as Robin Hood?
- What does The Wake reveal about the relationship between medievalism, ecology, and (anti-) globalization?
Please reply to me on this email address, or my institutional email of email@example.com. I am looking for an inter-disciplinary panel, with participation from historians, linguists, literary scholars, creative writers of medievalism, and folklorists (and others!). Do not feel limited to my suggested questions - if you have read, or intend to read, Kingsnorth's The Wake, you may have other ideas that I have not covered below. I do not require a detailed proposal at this point, just a little about your area of scholarship / activity and some sense of what you would like to talk about.
Participation is, of course, dependent on my proposal for the round table being accepted by the conference organizers. I will let potential participants know as soon as I have confirmation or acceptance / rejection (so don't go booking flights to Germany just yet!).