Lady in Lincoln green

Adjunct English professor and Robin Hood scholar Alexis Butzner spoke at a conference at the University of Rochester the weekend of Oct. 24.

Adjunct English professor and Robin Hood scholar Alexis Butzner spoke at a conference at the University of Rochester the weekend of Oct. 24. The four-day conference included a study of Robin Hood’s portrayal in the media and works by academics and scholars who have studied Robin Hood around the world.

The conference was the seventh biennial meeting of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies and was called “Robin Hood: Media Creature.”

“It was about how pop culture has used him in the span of his existence,” said Butzner, 25.

The conference included nonstop presentations of papers, films, art exhibits and artifacts and also explored Robin Hood’s image in politics.

“There were campaign buttons that were pro- or anti-George Bush. He was called ‘the Robin Hood of the rich,'” Butzner said. “There were campaign buttons that said ‘Obama Hood.’ Robin Hood is politically often used in negative ways, which is weird because he is a hero.”

At the conference, Butzner read from a paper she wrote two years ago. It was a new reading of a 15th century dramatic fragment, which is part of a play.

“I proposed a new reading of the play,” Butzner said. “I proposed it as a complete play, and I proposed a new set of ordering for who’s talking, when.”

Butzner explained that she became interested in Robin Hood watching the movies as a child.
As an adult, she became interested in how identity forms in a culture.

“I am interested in English and medieval, early modern cultures. These figures have been adopted by American cultures,” Butzner said.

As for the myth, Butzner assures that Robin Hood is certainly just a myth.

“The figure has been conflated,” Butzner said. “The myth is that there was a single person named Robin Hood who roamed the forest and helped women and children. Many people might have fit this description. It doesn’t matter if Robin Hood existed as one person. It doesn’t matter to the idea of him.”

Butzner noted that the Disney version of the Robin Hood story has some inaccuracies.

“The Disney cartoon is based on a version of the Robin Hood myth created by Anthony Munday,” Butzner said. “He created Robin of Loxley. Robin Hood, in his creation, was not a lower class bandit but was a gentrified version for the upper class. He was noble and helps [sic] the lower classes. He comes [sic] from noble blood.”

Butzner is from Olympia, Wash. She attended Eugene Lang College in New York City for her undergraduate degree as a philosophy major, and has a master’s in English.

“I am drawn to English because of the way it manifests so much depth of information about culture, history and philosophy,” Butzner said. “I think English—and all Literature studies, really—gives such a window onto a given time and societal group, and it works well in conjunction with other disciplines.”

Butzner’s passions are also numerous outside of the Robin Hood myth.

“Academically, I find the richest fulfillment in reading the texts that are hardest to approach for most English majors: medieval and early modern literature,” Butzner said. “That is, in part, what drew me to Robin Hood as a research topic—that, and all the cheesy movies that have been made over the years. I adore terrible, campy movies.”

Butzner enjoys the outdoors, road trips and making things by hand.

“I’m a child of the Northwest,” Butzner said.