chapter  8
14 Pages

The crimson thread of medievalism

Haematic heritage and transhistorical mood in colonial Australia
WithLouise D’Arcens

This chapter examines the link between the cultural politics and the emotional anatomy of colonial Australian ‘haematic medievalism,’ especially as it was expressed through the heraldic fetish in colonial society. In the case of medievalism, the pre-knowledge medievalists have is temporal and historical, forming a background apprehension of ‘the medieval’ or ‘medievalness.’ The medievalist ‘haematic desire’ is also significant because it reveals that an emotionally based transhistorical phenomenon, medievalism, both poses a conundrum and offers a singular angle on the study of the history of emotion. William Gay’s reference to Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘sturdy rhyme’ supplements the pan-Anglo sanguinary link by making a specifically medievalist appeal to a shared linguistic heritage founded on the ‘Chaucerian moment,’ when the English tongue became a vehicle of emergent ethnic-political ambition. Nevertheless, it is the crimson thread, or in this case the ‘red strain,’ that bears the sonnet’s central ideological weight.