This web site is a companion to Whose Middle Ages?: Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past, edited by members of the Fordham University Medieval Studies Faculty – Andrew Albin, Mary C. Erler, Thomas O’Donnell, Nicholas L. Paul, and Nina Rowe – and published by Fordham University Press in fall 2019.
Whose Middle Ages? was devised to foster a different discourse in the classroom, the academy, and society about future understandings of the medieval past. Clear-sighted critique drives this discourse; it is thus crucial that a book like this one incorporates critiques that call its failures as much as its successes to our attention. In a clarion Twitter thread, Sierra Lomuto urges us to deepen the lessons of Whose Middle Ages? by pronouncing the overwhelming whiteness of this book’s contributors and editors. While the book offers “a great introduction to the topic,” Lomuto writes, “it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the intellectual work of POC [people of color] and the risks we take starting difficult conversations,” work and risks that go muted across much of this volume. These failures are symptomatic of our academic field and the publishing industry that sustains it: “One of the problems with medieval studies is that this volume’s exclusion and erasure of POC voices is the norm. There isn’t another volume like this that isn’t predominantly white.” The editors wish to reiterate Lomuto’s pedagogical call in the strongest terms possible: “As much as this volume furthers our discussion about pressing issues facing Medieval Studies, it also hides the most important one: how whiteness thrives on the backs of POC. Don’t ignore that when you read and teach this volume. Let it deepen the learning experience.” We must recognize and trouble the structural, institutional, and systemic marginalization of scholars of color embedded in Whose Middle Ages?, even (and especially) in light of the book’s professed liberal, inclusive, and anti-racist aims.