Medieval manuscripts through a Hollywood lens.Read More
All Posts by Bryan C. Keene and Alexandra Kaczenski
About Alex—I credit my lifelong love of medieval history, fantasy, and adventure to my father reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit aloud to me before bed. My childhood was spent climbing trees in princess costumes, and I distinctly remember one afternoon attempting to get to Narnia through my closet, as well as devouring each Harry Potter book on the night of its release. The importance of creating fantastical new worlds was fostered by my film-industry family (think production designer, costumer, set decorator, sound editor, and more). I wandered around on sets and learned to sew elaborate historical Halloween costumes including medieval princess, Elizabethan lady, Jane Austen, and doomed French queen Marie Antoinette. My major areas of interest are book arts during the transitional decades between late medieval and early Renaissance. Like the world of Westeros thrown into flux, it was a time of changing global-political networks, a late flowering of chivalric orders, and emerging technologies (such as the printing press). I also have a scholastic weakness for bloody martyrdom scenes and all things mystic or metallic. I cannot wait to apply my scholarly fascinations and industry insights to this season’s sure-to-be-turbulent power struggles for the Iron Throne. // About Bryan— Beyond my research into Italian and French Renaissance manuscripts (specifically choir books and artists’ workshops) or about broader themes like global networks of book cultures in the Middle Ages, I can trace a trajectory of fascination for the medieval to my childhood days playing Zelda II: The Adventures of Link on NES or devouring every piece of writing by J.R.R. Tolkien (and teaching myself to read/write Elvish). The epitome of modern-medievalism geekiness has to be my prom outfit inspired by the attire of the woodland elves from The Lord of the Rings films. Thus the links between Game of Thrones and medieval manuscripts was an obvious outlet for this curator trying to cast new light on centuries-old objects for today’s online audiences.