With Jan-Peer Hartmann (eds), Material Remains: Reading the Past in Medieval and Early Modern British Literature, Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2021.


Medieval and early modern literature was fascinated with the material remains of the past. Scenes involving the discovery, description, circulation, or contemplation of archaeological objects can be found in texts ranging from hagiography to elegiac poetry, from historiography to romance—across regions and periods. This volume gathers voices to explore the ways in which these texts employ descriptions of objects from the past to produce aesthetic and literary responses to questions of historicity and the epistemological conditions of historical knowledge.

The contributions to Material Remains: Reading the Past in Medieval and Early Modern British Literature examine the understanding and experience of temporality as registered through the representation of found objects. From Beowulf and King Arthur to Richard III, Roger de Norton, and more, these essays reproduce the thrill of the archaeological find and generate new forms of historical understanding beyond the established narratives that reinforce modern forms of periodizing the Middle Ages.

“I was inspired by what this volume accomplishes, not only in its plethora of intersections between material culture and literature but also its demonstrations of how these intersections encourage us—indeed, oblige us—to breach ‘period’ barriers between early and late medieval, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and often enough the centuries beyond.” —Andrew Galloway

“The range is admirably wide, from early Anglo-Saxon writing to early modern, a width that answers to the volume’s own resistance to historical alterity: these are stories that can be told only within long chronologies. The objects, as recounted in these stories of invention, are wonderfully alive, giving a good name to Thing Theory.” —James Simpson

With Kai Wiegandt (eds), The Return of the Historical Novel? Thinking About Fiction and History After Historiographic Metafiction, Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag WINTER, 2017.


Until recently, the critical reception of historical fiction was dominated by two theoretical paradigms: György Lukács’s Marxist view and Linda Hutcheon’s concept of ‘historiographic metafiction’. We are now entering a new phase as the discussion of the historical novel is rapidly becoming more inclusive, more tolerant and, above all, more diverse. It is before the backdrop of these changes in the critical debate that the contributions to this volume are meant to be read. Rather than seeing historical fiction as locked in a clear-cut scheme of teleological succession or assigning to the historical novel specific aesthetic purposes, the articles in this collection seek to probe deeply into the historical novelʼs potential for providing readers not simply with an understanding of how the image of the past is constructed but also of how attempts to chart forms of historical otherness constitute a specific mode of cultural experience mediated by literature. This desire for a literary experience of historical otherness has recently increased in urgency, even if the historical authenticity one might nostalgically associate with such a project must always elude us. Authors discussed include Walter Scott, John Fowles, Graham Swift, M. J. Vassanji, J. M. Coetzee, Peter Ackroyd, Alan Massie, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel and Jim Crace.

With Russell West-Pavlov and Elisabeth Kempf (eds), Love, history and emotion in Chaucer and Shakespeare: Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida, Manchester: Manchester University Press , 2016.


This collection of essays explores medieval and early modern Troilus-texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The contributions show how medieval and early modern fictions of Troy use love and other emotions as a means of approaching the problem of tradition. As these texts reflect on their own traditionality, they highlight both the affective nature of temporality and the role of affect in scrutinising tradition itself. Focusing on a specific textual lineage that bridges the conventional period boundaries, the collection participates in an exchange between medievalists and early modernists that seeks to generate a dialogic encounter between the periods with the aim of further dismantling the rigid notions of chronology and periodisation that have kept medieval and early modern scholarship apart.

With Ethan Knapp and Margitta Rouse (eds), The Art of Vision: Ekphrasis in Medieval Literature and Culture, Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2015.


One of the most common ways of setting the arts in parallel, at least from the literary side, is through the popular rhetorical device of ekphrasis. The original meaning of this term is simply an extended and detailed, lively description, but it has been used most commonly in reference to painting or sculpture. In this lively collection of essays, Andrew James Johnston, Ethan Knapp, and Margitta Rouse offer a major contribution to the study of text–image relationships in medieval Europe. Resisting any rigid definition of ekphrasis, The Art of Vision is committed to reclaiming medieval ekphrasis, which has not only been criticized for its supposed aesthetic narcissism but has also frequently been depicted as belonging to an epoch when the distinctions between word and image were far less rigidly drawn. Examples studied range from the eleventh through the seventeenth centuries and include texts written in Medieval Latin, Medieval French, Middle English, Middle Scots, Middle High German, and Early Modern English.

“This wide-ranging collection of essays offers a significant contribution to our understanding of the relationships between images and texts in the literatures of medieval Europe. The volume’s insightful investigations of early ekphrastic texts and theories are certain to enrich ongoing scholarly conversations about rhetoric, literary form, imagination, and visual cultures in the Middle Ages and beyond.” — Shannon Gayk, Indiana University, Bloomington

With Margitta Rouse and Philipp Hinz (eds), The Medieval Motion Picture: The Politics of Adaptation, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

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Providing new and challenging ways of understanding the medieval in the modern and vice versa, The Medieval Motion Picture: The Politics of Adaptation highlights how medieval aesthetic experience breathes life into contemporary cinema. Engaging with the subject of time and temporality, the essays examine the politics of adaptation and our contemporary entanglement with the medieval: not only in overtly medieval-themed films but also in such diverse genres as thrillers, horror films, performance animation, and even science fiction. Among the films and TV shows discussed are productions such as HBO’s award winning series Game of Thrones, Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.

“As a whole, Johnston, Rouse, and Hinz's The Medieval Motion Picture: The Politics of Adaptation lays out theories and exemplary readings that will enhance theoretical discussions of the cinematic Middle Ages, particularly in its focus on the temporal nature of adaptations, while also putting forth intriguing interpretations of a range of films, from masterpieces (Ran) to blockbuster successes (The Sixth Sense) to schlock (Timeline). Each essay provides a strong reading of the film under consideration, and scholars of these films will benefit from the volume's detailed readings of them.” (Tison Pugh, TMR 15.03.14)

“The question of how various forms of art, discourse, and structure manage to negotiate the distance between various non-contiguous periods of history is at the heart of all medievalism studies. The contributors to The Medieval Motion Picture confront the issue of temporality by claiming, and demonstrating, for cinematic representations of medieval culture a joyous multimodality of temporal and aesthetic layers apt to adapt medieval artifacts, concepts, and practices to the diverse horizons of expectation postmedieval viewers bring to medievalist movies. From Kurosawa’s Ran to HBO’s Game of Thrones, the essays in this theoretically sophisticated volume reveal the complex dialogic interplay of pre-modern and (post)modern temporalities.” (Richard Utz, Chair and Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)

“This ambitious collection explores the ideas and practices that link medievalism studies, adaptation theory and cinema studies. The ‘politics’ of adaptation here are institutional and disciplinary: these original and inventive essays show how far medievalism has developed from earlier preoccupations with fidelity to sources or to the historical past. Using the temporal uncertainties of medieval film as a starting-point, many of these essays offer brilliant insights into the nature of cinematic representation.” (Stephanie Trigg, Professor of English, University of Melbourne, Australia)

Robin Hood. Geschichte einer Legende, München: C. H. Beck, 2013.

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Jeder kennt Robin Hood, den Rebell aus dem Sherwood Forest. Dieses Buch erzählt die Geschichte seiner Legende. Seit dem Mittelalter kursieren Erzählungen über ihn und sie haben sich bis in die heutige Populärkultur fortgesetzt. Zahlreiche Kinofilme zeigen seine Taten immer wieder in neuem Licht. Doch gab es ihn, den “wahren”, den “historischen” Robin Hood? Andrew James Johnston begibt sich auf die Spuren dieses Helden, dessen Bild die Zeiten überdauerte. Dabei stellt sich heraus, dass die Figur des Robin Hood, des Rächers der Armen und Entrechteten, eher einer Sehnsucht entsprang als tatsächlichen historischen Ereignissen.

Einen Link zur Rezension von Jürgen Kaube in der FAZ vom 16.04.2013 finden Sie hier.

With Ute Berns (eds), European Journal of English Studies 15,2 (2011)
[= Special Issue “Medievalism”].

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Having begun as a marginal subdivision of medieval studies proper, medievalism with its roots in cultural studies is increasingly becoming a central element of medieval studies, as medieval studies begins to acknowledge the fundamental importance of theoretical issues such as periodization and temporality.

Performing the Middle Ages from ‘Beowulf’ to ‘Othello’, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2008.

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Performing the Middle Ages from ‘Beowulf’ to ‘Othello’ traces the dialogic nature of the relationship between the Middle Ages and modernity. Arguing that modern beliefs in the alterity of the Middle Ages stem from the Middle Ages’ own processes of self-representation, Johnston explores varieties of nostalgia through a wide selection of texts. This volume spans an extensive chronological period with a view to demonstrating how our notions of the medieval have been crucially informed by the past itself. The study is focused on works which stage that popular literary archetype — the nostalgic figure of the aristocratic warrior — and argues that it is this image that provides a structural model for so many modern perspectives on the Middle Ages. And yet, in the Middle Ages this model was being deconstructed as it was also being generated. By moving from the self-consciously archaic heroism of Beowulf to the scathing comment on chivalric narrative presented in Chaucer’s ‘Knight’s Tale’, Johnston’s analysis offers an intriguing insight into the way medieval texts engage in a continual aesthetic and ideological critique of their own cultural moment. Using Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Alliterative Morte Arthure as examples of an incisive critique of the cult of subjectivity and of a highly self-conscious desire for tradition, Johnston extends his analysis to the early seventeenth century, and explores the ways in which Shakespeare’s Othello brilliantly deconstructs the very concept of ‘Renaissance Man’. With its interest in issues of subjectivity, textual performance, and the ideological self-awareness of medieval culture, Performing the Middle Ages provides a scholarly and compelling investigation into the Middle Ages’ ability both to understand itself and to shape (post)modern notions of the medieval.

“[...] there is more than enough in it to fascinate specialists in the texts and authors that Johnston traverses, as well as the wider community of scholars who continue to be troubled by the patronizing subordination of the early to the late.” (Ellen MacKay, The Medieval Review 4 [2009])

“A sophisticated and highly suggestive piece of work, which offers a formidable counterpoint to a whole range of hoary generalizations.” (B. Parsons, Medium Aevum LXXIX [2010])

“Johnston’s diligent and thorough book tries to challenge and modify all those ideological assumptions that seek to establish our understanding of modernity ex negativo [...].” (Christoph Houswitschka, Anglia 128/3 [2011])