Ärans och hjältarnas tid - eller de bondska töntarnas epok?

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Abstract

This subject of this article is the discrepancy in 20th-century popular culture with regard to views on the Middle Ages. On the one hand, the medieval period has come to represent darkness, stupidity and, in the negative sense of the word, an old-fashioned attitude to life. On the other hand, the Middle Ages is often visualised as a positive antithesis to modernity, an age of heoric values, knightly concepts of honour and true idealism. As is shown with examples taken from comics (Carl Barks, Herge), I try to demonstrate that the negative image of the Middle Ages - and of various past ages in general - is prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, while the positive image has been gaining ground ever since. Why? A tentative hypothesis is that the discrepancy might be linked to the growth of, and the subsequent criticism of, modernity as a cultural phenomenon. As long as the expansion of modernity and technology was regarded as an uncomplicated, thoroughly positive project, previous societies (and the Middle Ages in particular) were the subject of ridicule. However, as the benefits of technological progress and social development in general have become the focus of an increasing amount of criticism, what might be termed the medieval alternative has gained ground. History is, often unconsciously, used in order to criticise and comment upon modernity. As a result, the Middle Ages has experienced a virtual renaissance in Western popular culture.

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  • History
Translated title of the contributionHonours and heroism time - or the countryside domesticated tone epoch?
Original languageSwedish
Pages (from-to)14-20
JournalKonsthistorisk Tidskrift
Volume75
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes