Getting Medieval with Comics

The life and teachings of Ramon Lull (14th century)

The life and teachings of Ramon Lull (14th century). Karlsruhe, Badische LandesBibliothek, St Peter Perg. 92, folio 12r. []

The art and literature of the Middle Ages and modern comics may seem worlds apart, but what happens if they are brought into contact? This project asks comic creator Karrie Fransman to interpret and respond to manuscripts, images, and literature of the medieval period, recreating the wonderful creatures of these stories in new and informative ways. Both medieval literature/art and modern comic books question what it means to be human, sharing a fascination with superheroes (the super-human), robotics and artificial intelligence (the non-human), and fantasy (human-like creatures that are familiar and yet uncomfortably ‘other’).

Medievalists from King’s College London (PhD students and early career researchers)* have composed literary prompts to inspire Karrie’s exploration of what it means to be human in the Middle Ages and today. These prompts, or ‘snapshots’, consist of stories and imagery from medieval manuscripts, both poetry and prose (see below). Karrie will create original artwork and facilitate three workshops for young people, funded by the Cultural Institute at King’s and hosted by the British Library. Karrie’s and the workshop participants’ comics will be shared at a British Library event in March 2017, after which they will be displayed at Orbital Comics in Soho as well as on this blog.

Carolyn Dinshaw says, ‘[T]he Middle Ages are taken to be absolutely other but turn out to be only a refraction of the present…’ and describes ‘getting medieval’ as ‘[t]he process of touching, of making partial connections between incommensurate entities’.** Are the ideas portrayed in medieval art and literature really so distant from our own conversation about what it means to be human?

We challenge you, whether you’re an artist or an academic, to ‘get medieval’ with comics.


*The medievalists who have been involved in this project are Francesca Allfrey, Rebecca Hardie, Carl Kears, Charlotte Knight, Kathryn Maude, Victoria Walker, Sophia Wilson, Lydia Zeldenrust, and myself (Hana Videen). All of us have studied or are currently studying at King’s College London. Read about some of our other projects in the Old English Newsletter.

**Carolyn Dinshaw, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (Duke University Press, 1999), pp. 19, 54.


Header image by Karrie Fransman

Getting medieval with comics: How to be human in the Middle Ages is a collaboration between King’s College London’s Department of English and artist Karrie Fransman, led by Dr Hana Videen and supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s as part of the Early Career Researchers scheme.


3 thoughts on “Getting Medieval with Comics

  1. Pingback: Getting medieval at Orbital Comics | Medieval Comics

  2. Pingback: Æthelburg (or Ethelburga): saint, abbess, badass | Medieval Comics

  3. Pingback: The green knight | Medieval Comics

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