Print Media Interviews

Media Interviews

Below is a selection of interviews that Dr. Sturtevant has done for the media.

…“‘Races’ in D&D are fundamentally different than our concept of ‘races’ in the real world,” medievalist Paul B. Sturtevant told HuffPost. “In D&D, races are based in deep biological differences, whereas we know that in the real world, race is a social construct based upon arbitrary and superficial differences. Using the word ‘race’ in the game where they really mean something more like ‘species’ promotes racist ideas.”

In a 2017 article, Sturtevant wrote that D&D’s idea of “race” is a holdover from “The Lord of the Rings” and author J.R.R. Tolkien, who “conflat[ed] race, culture and ability.” 

In his novel, Tolkien outlined “the ‘racial’ characteristics of men, of dwarves, of elves, of orcs,” Sturtevant wrote, adding that Tolkien “created the blueprint for the troubling relationship between race and fantasy that would govern twentieth-century fantasies.”…

Read more at Huffington Post.

…“The bombing of Dresden was during World War II,” Sturtevant says, “and it was when the Allies used incendiary devices … and killed everyone in the city. Not through the explosive power of one nuclear bomb, but through progressive strikes that were meant to burn the city to ash and everyone in it.”

“This [episode of Game of Thrones] feels very modern to me,” Sturtevant continues, “because we are currently living in the age of the machine-gun. We are currently living in the age of the mass killing, the age where one person can kill 500 people with a single weapon without ever seeing their faces. Where we can drop bombs on people from above and from afar and never have to hear their screams. And that is one of the uniquely horrifying things about our current advanced technological age, and it has nothing to do with the Middle Ages.”


…“They’re using their messed-up concept of the Middle Ages as a recruitment tool, and that’s a huge problem,” says Paul B. Sturtevant, author of “The Middle Ages in Popular Imagination” and editor in chief of the Public Medievalist.

Sturtevant counted 18 references to the Middle Ages in the markings and writing on the arsenal that belonged to Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian charged in Friday’s New Zealand rampage. […] “White supremacists imagine the Middle Ages as a time when Europe was all white, separated from its neighbors and in constant conflict with those that it deemed to be outsiders,” Sturtevant said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” Read more at

…But it was the Victorians who made King John the pantomime villain he is today, says Paul Sturtevant, who is researching Hollywood depictions of the medieval period, at the University of Leeds.

“The Victorians used King John as a punchbag. Prior to the 18th and 19th Century, Robin Hood was not put in a historical place. It wasn’t about the monarch at all, just Robin Hood and his adventures.

“So the Robin Hood stories being placed in John’s reign is a recent thing. He’s portrayed as a pantomime villain because a number of accounts from the time suggest that people found him quite unpleasant as a person. So the question is to what degree those sources are accurate.”

Read more on BBC News.

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