Tuesday, July 27, 2021

CFP Public Medievalism and Academic Activism in the Face of White Nationalist (Mis)appropriations (9/15/21; Kalamazoo 5/9-14/2022)

 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.


The process for proposing papers for the 57th Congress (live on the internet May 9-14, 2022) uses an online submission system powered by Confex. The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, Sept. 15.

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.

Session Description:

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.

We invite papers that either call attention and critique medievalism and fantasy literature which fall into this category or papers which highlight (often lesser-known works of) medievalism and fantasy literature which problematize these narratives by including, incorporating, or otherwise depicting more historically attuned representations of what scholars rightly describe as the global Middle Ages. We also hope that a collection of essays will result from this session.

Please submit proposals for this session through the Confex system for approval, and send any questions related to the session to the organizer, Richard Fahey, at rfahey@nd.edu

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/.

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