Essay On Medieval History In The Modern Mind: Norse Mythology

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Medieval History in the Modern Mind: Norse Mythology
Popular culture is filled with representations of “Medieval culture,” from Robin Hood to Joan of Arc, from King Arthur to Norse mythology. There seems to be a prevalent negative connotation associated with this time, a conceptualization which is epitomized in a label often pinned to the Medieval period, “Dark Ages,” and which manifests itself through the idea of the “Modern Foundation Myth.” While “successful” time periods of the modern age are rooted in the culture and sophistication of Classic Antiquity and the Roman Empire, the “Dark” Middle Ages are a lapse in time where “culture” is essentially dead. Similarly negative depictions have molded the public’s perception about the character and culture of this time period, from as early as 1908 productions of Robin Hood. Even as development of historiography is constantly reshaping our understanding of history, recent productions of Norse mythology in the 2011 movie Thor continue to
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However, Thor’s transformative “rebirth” after exposure to the “cultured” human world is perhaps simultaneously the most subtle and most explicit presentation of the Middle Ages in a negative light. While the audience may not consciously perceive this connection without knowledge about the “Modern Foundation Myth” or the origins behind the label of “Dark Ages,” the negative connotations associated with the Middle Ages persist throughout nearly all mediums and presentations of this time period in popular media. Despite the portrayal of historical Norse mythology in popular culture, the glory, power, and fantastical elements exemplified through movies such as Thor belie the subtle currents of negativity underlying similar manifestations of Norse and Medieval culture in modern

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