The Knights Templar in popular culture
: film, video games & fan tourism

  • Patrick Masters

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

In the 19th century, the Knights Templar became a phenomenon in popular culture and their popularity in fiction has created a contradictory and fantastic perception, which this thesis defines as the thematic Templar narrative. This evolving narrative currently consists of four defining thematic aspects, firstly as a villainous knight, which first appeared in the literature of Sir Walter Scott. The second aspect is the heroic knight, a character type introduced in 20th-century fiction by Swedish author Jan Guillou. The third aspect is the original fictional 13th-century incarnation of the Templar, their role within this mythical quest. The final aspect of the Templar narrative is the 21st century Templar conspiracy story personified by Dan Brown’s novel, which is a quest to follow in the Templars’ footsteps and discover lost Templar secrets.
To analyse the representation of the Templar in popular culture this thesis uses a thematic structure instead of using a historical chronology. The four thematic aspects are fit into two parts; the narrative of the knight and the narrative of the quest. The narrative of the knight focuses on the portrayals of the villainous Templar and heroic Templar knight; while the narrative of the quest centres on the mythical quest and following in the Templars’ footsteps. The thesis uses this thematic structure to analyse the Templar narrative from a media fan cultures perspective examining popular cultural texts such as the major films Kingdom of Heaven and The Da Vinci Code, as well as mainstream computer games such as Assassin’s Creed. To fully evaluate the Knights Templar in popular culture, the thesis examines participation through immersive experiences such as the virtual environment with video games and physically through fan tourism. In this way, the thesis can demonstrate how a religious order of knights abolished in the 14th century became widespread across multiple aspects of popular culture.
Date of AwardJan 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorLincoln Geraghty (Supervisor), Deborah Shaw (Supervisor) & Emma Austin (Supervisor)

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