Laboratoire de Recherches sur les Cultures Anglophones, UMR 8225


Université Paris Diderot- uspc


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Old and new formats of historical fiction: archeology of a popular culture

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Two centuries after the resounding publications of Walter Scott’s and James Fenimore Cooper’s novels, the successes of series such as The Crown (Netflix, 2016-) and video games like Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft, 2007) testify to the consistent popularity of historical fiction across generations. The persistence of such a craze for historical fiction seems to be linked, at least partially, to the regular creation of new formats that both renew the genre and reactivate the popular potential of the older works that may have fallen into abeyance. This one-day symposium aims to conduct a critical and analytical reflection on the genre of historical fiction so as to build an archeology of its formats as popular forms from the 19th century to today (novel, cinema, TV series, graphic novels, video games). Rather than focusing on a single form, papers will preferably adopt a transversal approach (both in terms of period and format) to themes and analyses.

This symposium will first deal with the way in which each format, in its own terms, influences, modifies, adapts, and updates the genre of historical fiction, thus assuring its unfailing popularity. We will be particularly interested in confronting the different formats, genres and periods. For instance, we wish to explore the persistence of the 19th-century historical fiction in the contemporary formats and, conversely, study how they draw elements from the older genres (one may consider here, for example, the link between 19th-century serialized historical novels and today’s TV-series). One may also examine how the representation of a historical character, or an event, varies depending on the genres and formats. The questions of heritage and influence will thus be crucial to our reflection. Attention should also be paid to the questions of conservation and accessibility of sources, as well as to the physical aspects of the forms and formats of historical fiction. Papers may also discuss the extent to which the new formats of historical fiction redefine the reader’s, spectator’s, and video-game player’s relation to history: does it suggest new modes of construction of historical knowledge?

Responsables : Emilia Le Seven ( Ariane Hudelet (, Michel Imbert (, Marjolaine Boutet (

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