CFP: Public Medievalism and Academic Activism in the Face of White Nationalist (Mis)appropriations
Sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Scholarship and Teaching of the Medieval in Popular Culture.
Chair: Richard Fahey
For the 57th International Congress on Medieval Studies hosted by Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Online Conference: 9-14 May 2022.
Paper proposals comprise the proposed paper's title; the answers to questions about social media and live recording; name, affiliation, and contact information for the author(s); an abstract (300 words) for consideration by session organizer(s); and a short abstract (50 words) for public view on the meeting site, should the proposal be accepted.
As medievalists in an era of rising white nationalism in both the United States and Europe, we have become increasingly aware of the many ways medieval studies and medievalism has been and is actively being appropriated by organizations who espouse and uphold fallacious and ahistorical white supremacist narratives. It is our job as specialists in the field to act swiftly and decisively in our roles as public medievalists and educators to help combat the nefarious spread of misinformation about the medieval period especially online and via social media. Medieval symbolism and subject matter, especially relating to “Anglo-Saxon” England, the Viking Age, and the Crusades, have been recast as symbols of whiteness and mobilized for their erroneous presentations of medieval Europe as fiercely and intentionally homogenous. Some of the most horrific and egregious examples of misappropriating medieval studies were displayed at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA (8/12/2016) and during the insurrection at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC (1/6/2021).
This raises a related but similarly important question: how have medievalism (whether in fantasy or historical fiction) and modern adaptations of medieval literature and history contributed to these problematic narratives? Helen Young has observed “habits of whiteness” within fantasy literature and modern medievalism, which correspond to current trends in white nationalist rhetoric. This session intends to call attention to the ways in which medievalism reproduces and reinforces, often unwittingly, noxious white supremacist rhetoric in these fictive representations of an imaginary “pure white” medieval period that never existed.
More information about the conference can be found at https://wmich.edu/medievalcongress.
Further information about the session sponsors may be found at https://medievalinpopularculture.blogspot.com/.