Critical Medievalism and the New South: Red Rock and Gone with the Wind
Abstract

Abstract:

Traditional southern medievalism is often characterized as reactionary and ideologically transparent, the product of a reprehensible desire to glorify plantation life, romanticize antebellum race relations and reify antiquated gender politics by associating white planters with “Knights and their Ladies Fair.” This article argues that in Thomas Nelson Page’s Red Rock and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, southern medievalism is not used to assert that the Old South was exactly like the feudal Middle Ages, nor to suggest that retaining retrograde Old South values is the region’s only hope for retaining a stable and homogenous cultural identity. Instead, both Page and Mitchell use the distinctive temporal structure of medievalism to offer the South new ways to confront the future and to navigate the social, political, and economic changes brought on by war and Reconstruction. Using southern medievalism to capitalize upon historical difference rather than to elide it, both Page and Mitchell use the fictionalized histories of medievalism to imagine ways in which the New South can renegotiate its relation both to its past and to its future.