Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

D''Arcens, L. 2012, ''Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo and the Left-Modernist Reclamation of Medieval Popular Culture'', in G. Ashton & D. T. Kline (eds), Medieval Afterlives in Popular Culture, 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan, New York. pp. 57-70.


The study of popular culture has long harbored what can be describedas a latent medievalist impulse. Among the cluster of competingdefinitions of the word "popular" over which scholars have wrestled,there has been one that has taken a longitudinal approach, perceiving"popular culture" to be the authentic expression and repository of "thepeople," il popolo or das Volk, who have been understood as an historicalcategory. According to the practitioners of this approach, the customs andtraditions of these "popular classes" have endured across centuries despitenot participating in "official culture." The culture associated with "the people" is deemed popular in the sense that it is produced by them andfor their own consumption, expressing their interests and their aesthetics. I am calling this a "medievalist impulse" of popular cultural theorybecause, as cultural theorists and medievalists have separately argued, itsemergence in the nineteenth century is inextricably bound up with thephilological, literary, and material recovery of medieval culture.