Below is a selection of some of the published and public-facing work that has pushed forward conversations about the ethical relationship between medieval pasts and the modern present. Numerous scholars of color have written essays calling the attention of academics and the wider national media to the complicity of Medieval Studies in perpetuating white supremacist visions of the past and imagining disciplinary futures that adopt anti-racist praxis as central to the field. This webpage is not and cannot be exhaustive; readers are encouraged to explore this ever-growing body of work.
Antiracist Medievalisms: From “Yellow Peril” to Black Lives Matter
Book jacket description: How do marginalized communities across the globe use the medieval past to combat racism, educate the public, and create a just world? Jonathan Hsy advances urgent academic and public conversations about race and appropriations of the medieval past in popular culture and the arts. Examining poetry, fiction, journalism, and performances, Hsy shows how cultural icons such as Frederick Douglass, Wong Chin Foo, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Sui Sin Far reinvented medieval traditions to promote social change. Contemporary Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and multiracial artists embrace diverse pasts to build better futures.
Disturbing Times: Medieval Pasts, Reimagined Futures
eds. Catherine E. Karkov, Anna Kłosowska, Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Book jacket description: From Kehinde Wiley to W.E.B. Du Bois, from Nubia to Cuba, Willie Doherty’s terror in ancient landscapes to the violence of institutional Neo-Gothic, Reagan’s AIDS policies to Beowulf fanfiction, this richly diverse volume brings together art historians and literature scholars to articulate a more inclusive, intersectional medieval studies. It will be of interest to students working on the diaspora and migration, white settler colonialism and pogroms, Indigenous studies and decolonial methodology, slavery, genocide, and culturecide. The authors confront the often disturbing legacies of medieval studies and its current failures to own up to those, and also analyze fascist, nationalist, colonialist, anti-Semitic, and other ideologies to which the medieval has been and is yoked, collectively formulating concrete ethical choices and aims for future research and teaching.
A Cultural History of Disability in the Middle Ages
eds. Jonathan Hsy, Tory V. Pearman, Joshua R. Eyler
Book jacket description: The Middle Ages was an era of dynamic social transformation, and notions of disability in medieval culture reflected how norms and forms of embodiment interacted with gender, class, and race, among other dimensions of human difference. Ideas of disability in courtly romance, saints’ lives, chronicles, sagas, secular lyrics, dramas, and pageants demonstrate the nuanced, and sometimes contradictory, relationship between cultural constructions of disability and the lived experience of impairment. An essential resource for researchers, scholars, and students of history, literature, visual art, cultural studies, and education, A Cultural History of Disability in the Middle Ages explores themes and topics such as atypical bodies; mobility impairment; chronic pain and illness; blindness; deafness; speech; learning difficulties; and mental health.
Special Issue: Critical Race and the Middle Ages
Literature Compass 16.9-10, ed. Dorothy Kim
This special issue on race in the premodern past centers Margo Hendricks’ call for a premodern critical race studies that “acknowledges its genealogies” and “celebrates that lineage.” By highlighting and redressing the elevation of certain premodern race genealogies over others, it addresses some of the most important intellectual and literary turns that are deeply about politics, the state of the world, and how premodern critical literary studies is deeply imbricated in these discussions. A majority of its contributing scholars identify as medievalists of color.
Special Issue: Indigenous Futures & Medieval Pasts
English Language Notes 58.2, eds. Tarren Andrews and Tiffany Beechy
This special issue considers the “Indigenous turn” currently underway in the field of medieval studies. It reflects on the possibilities and concerns that arise when the knowledges and experiences of Indigenous studies and global Indigenous communities encounter medieval literature and the Euro-American ontological frameworks that have historically shaped its study. Contributors seek to respond to the question: What does it mean for medieval studies to be held accountable by contemporary and ancestral communities of Indigenous peoples whose lives and deaths have created Indigenous studies as we understand it today?
Medieval studies: the stakes of the field
postmedieval 11, eds. Mary Rambaran-Olm, M. Breann Leake, and Micah James Goodrich
This issue… reclaim[s] the collective revolting existence of those who are not cisgender, male, white, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical, middle class, or Christian, a revolting existence that institutional powers – schools, families, hospitals, religious communities, the prison-industrial complex – continually attempt to purge. Our issue asks a deceptively simple question: ‘Whose voices matter in medieval studies?’ This question attends to the voices in the literary-historical record and to the voices of the scholars who engage that archive. The essays in this collection address issues of race, embodiment, and difference, but more specifically, they address matters of inclusion and visibility within these larger conversations.
MAA Webinar: Race, Racism, and Our Institutions and Disciplines
This webinar investigates race and racism as it appears in our disciplines and institutions, many of which were founded on explicitly racial grounds. The panel is designed to make us think about the structures which uphold bias practices, consider the effects of these practices on students, scholars, and scholarship of the Middle Ages, imagine ways forward, and enact potential subversions to institutionalized habits.
MAA Webinar: Medieval Crip Theory, New Approaches and Provocations
This Webinar, organized by the MAA Inclusivity & Diversity Committee, explores and presents new research on disability studies and the Middle Ages. The three papers explore disability as a normative (over)determination of social, religious, and economic forces, as well as a site for transformative potentialities, antinormative temporalities, and alternative embodiments.
Medieval Disability Glossary
This resource explores the history and development of words related to impairment in all its forms. By investigating words drawn from a broad range of medieval languages and resources, the Glossary demonstrates the complexity of early writers’ approaches to disability. Instead of simply reflecting common human experiences, the vocabulary of impairment plays a vital role in shaping the identities of individuals and communities.
The Secret Power of White Supremacy: How Anti-Racists Can Take It Back
Cord Whitaker encourages Black Lives Matter protesters to consider co-opting the language and trappings of chivalry and knighthood that motivate so many racists.
Drinking with Historians – Episode 8
An informal conversation with medievalists Dr. Mary Rambaran-Olm (@isasaxonists) and Dr. Erik Wade (@erik_kaars) about the medieval world, anti-racism, and the issue of complicity, both by consumers and producers of work in medieval studies.
Race in Dialogue: Kim Hall and Noémie Ndiaye
A celebration of and conversation about Kim Hall’s groundbreaking book, Things of Darkness: Economies of Race and Gender in Early Modern England, twenty-five years after its first publication.
Students from all backgrounds need access to the literature of every age
Shazia Jagot’s life was transformed by the chance to read Chaucer as an undergraduate. It is crucial, she argues, that a new generation of black and ethnic minority students get the same opportunity.