This book examines the act of medieval re-creation as performance by focusing on the Society for Creative Anachronism (S.C.A.). It describes the group's activities and investigates its place in popular culture, looking at the S.C.A. not so much as a historical society but as an on-going work of performance art; a postmodern counter-culture riff on what it means to be 'medieval.'
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Michael A. Cramer is an actor, director, filmmaker, and scholar, and he teaches communications and theatre at the City University of New York. He has published articles and reviews in Theatre Journal, Medievalism, and Sixteenth Century Journal.Review:
Historical re-creation and re-enactment organizations of various sorts have become so popular that they constitute one of the major ways that ordinary people with a deep interest in history interact with the past. Yet the scale, complexity, and variety of this activity is hardly known to scholars, whether they study popular culture or academic history. Michael Cramer here discusses the Society for Creative Anachronism, one of the oldest and most influential of such organizations, and explains in lucid prose why its distinctive mix of re-creation, fantasy, and role-playing has attracted thousands of members over the last four decades. Cramer's analysis will prove useful to anyone interested in or working on the significance of role-playing or re-enactment in modern society. (Steven Muhlberger, Professor of History, Nipissing University)
Michael Cramer's Medieval Fantasy as Performance is a fascinating study of the Society for Creative Anachronism and its fabrication of a conception of the Middle Ages that serves the purposes of recreational medievalism. This is one of the most insightful books on modern role-playing and re-enactment that I know of, and certainly the most entertaining in its revelations of how scholars and playboys turn the imagined king game into an entire way of life! (Daniel Gerould, Martin E. Segal Theatre Center)
Taking a participant-observer's perspective, Michael Cramer vividly describes and deftly analyzes the SCA as a creative synthesis of medievalism and popular culture. Accessible and enjoyable, this book offers new insights into the phenomenon of historicist role-playing communities. (Pamela Sheingorn, Professor emerita of history and theatre, CUNY)
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