Sir Isumbras meets Jack Bauer, or on the (re)reading of medieval Saracen romances

Liliana Sikorska
2016 Theoria et Historia Scientiarum  
In the American hit series 24 Hours (2001)(2002)(2003)(2004)(2005)(2006)(2007)(2008)(2009)(2010) produced by Fox Television, Jack Bauer, a CTU agent (Counter Terrorist Unit, LA) always saves the day by stopping various terrorist actions, prevents nuclear bombs (known as the nucs) from going off, and viruses from decimating the population of the United States (and the world). But first and foremost, he identifies, finds and finally annihilates the real enemy (the Arabs or the Russians) who are
more » ... Russians) who are behind all such terrorist activities. It is no surprise that such a versatile agent can do so much and mostly by himself. After all, he is a contemporary superhero, and superheroes, battered as they usually are, always win with nameless multitudes. In all his attitude to fighting and war, be they real or cyber battles, Jack Bauer is strangely similar to a medieval superhero, Sir Isumbras, who also has to fight his own weakness, overcome the grief after losing his family, and in the end boldly face death fighting countless Saracens. While Sir Isumbras is an archetypal knight, a paragon of virtue, a defender of the faith, Jack Bauer is a contemporary version of the Isumbras figure, fearless and willing to sacrifice everything for the greater good, the safety of his country. What follows is a reading of the two characters within the psychological framework of allies and enemies in medieval romance and their reincarnations in contemporary culture.
doi:10.12775/ths.2015.006 fatcat:fy3rf37ywfbp3nbft2gzkh5hii