Session Title

Where Else? (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

BABEL Working Group

Organizer Name

Suzanne Conklin Akbari

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Presider Name

Asa Simon Mittman

Presider Affiliation

California State Univ.-Chico

Paper Title 1

Discussant

Presenter 1 Name

Monica H. Green

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Arizona State Univ.

Paper Title 2

Discussant

Presenter 2 Name

Roland Betancourt

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Irvine

Paper Title 3

Discussant

Presenter 3 Name

Shamma Boyarin

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Victoria

Paper Title 4

Discussant

Presenter 4 Name

Alan S. Montroso

Presenter 4 Affiliation

George Washington Univ.

Paper Title 5

Discussant

Presenter 5 Name

Christine E. Kozikowski

Presenter 5 Affiliation

College of The Bahamas

Start Date

12-5-2016 3:30 PM

Session Location

Sangren 1740

Description

Where Else?

During ICMS 2015, a number of different events (such as the Richard Utz plenary, “Ye Next Generacioun” roundtable featuring younger scholars, and the Material Collective’s meta-session) culminated in calls for attendees to acknowledge the current Anglo-European (and Anglophone) center of gravity of medieval studies and to engage more proactively with perspectives from outside the Latin West and a predominantly Anglo-European academy. Academic medieval studies (especially scholarship on literature, arts, and culture) has been increasingly mindful of the linguistic, cultural, and religious heterogeneity of the Western Middle Ages. Suzanne Akbari, Karla Mallette, Jeffrey Cohen, and Geraldine Heng (to name a few) have advanced important cross-cultural, polyglot, and multi-faith approaches to the historical past. David Wallace’s forthcoming literary history of Europe (which includes contributors from many countries) rethinks the very contours our conceptions of medieval “Europe” by attending to interconnected urban trajectories spilling over into Africa, Central Asia, and the North Atlantic rather than reifying emergent European nation-states. What remains less explored at this point is how the (Western) medieval past reads differently for modern scholars who are not of Anglo-European ancestry or who work in areas outside of Europe or Anglophone contexts. Cord Whitaker and Helen Young have recently argued that professional medieval studies and non-professional forms of medievalism can perpetuate a myth of a “monochrome” medieval past that denies the coeval status of people of non-European backgrounds (especially people of African or Asian ancestry). Michelle Warren, Kathleen Davis and Nadia Altschul have focused not so much on race but on expanding the cultural geographies of modern medievalism, exploring how notions of “the Middle Ages” have been deployed in historical contexts outside of Europe. The “Middle Ages in the Modern World” conference series, the Studies in Medievalism monograph series, and the Global Chaucers project are further examples of scholarly communities that have begun to take seriously how Europe’s medieval past is mediated, adapted, or transformed across contemporary non-Anglophone settings.

This roundtable solicits a range of voices to explore “where else” medieval studies might move—in rethinking the past, and reshaping a medievalist community in the present. How might academic medieval studies more effectively expand beyond the Latin (Christian) West to encompass other cultural perspectives? What forms of knowledge and expertise—academic or non-professional—can restructure implicitly Anglo-European frames of reference? What other paradigms for engaging with a “medieval” (or classical) past emerge outside of European cultures? How do departmental boundaries limit the projection of modern national or linguistic taxonomies into different orders of the Middle Ages? How might, for example, the presumptive parochialism and canonicity of an “English” department be understood in relation to the (perhaps equally) presumptive expansive boundaries of “Art” and “History” departments? Ultimately, this conversation hopes to entertain new approaches to the heterogeneity (racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious) of the historical past as well as broader range of perspectives (linguistic, national, and geographical) in our present.

Suzanne C. Akbari, Eileen A. Joy, Myra J. Seaman

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May 12th, 3:30 PM

Where Else? (A Roundtable)

Sangren 1740

Where Else?

During ICMS 2015, a number of different events (such as the Richard Utz plenary, “Ye Next Generacioun” roundtable featuring younger scholars, and the Material Collective’s meta-session) culminated in calls for attendees to acknowledge the current Anglo-European (and Anglophone) center of gravity of medieval studies and to engage more proactively with perspectives from outside the Latin West and a predominantly Anglo-European academy. Academic medieval studies (especially scholarship on literature, arts, and culture) has been increasingly mindful of the linguistic, cultural, and religious heterogeneity of the Western Middle Ages. Suzanne Akbari, Karla Mallette, Jeffrey Cohen, and Geraldine Heng (to name a few) have advanced important cross-cultural, polyglot, and multi-faith approaches to the historical past. David Wallace’s forthcoming literary history of Europe (which includes contributors from many countries) rethinks the very contours our conceptions of medieval “Europe” by attending to interconnected urban trajectories spilling over into Africa, Central Asia, and the North Atlantic rather than reifying emergent European nation-states. What remains less explored at this point is how the (Western) medieval past reads differently for modern scholars who are not of Anglo-European ancestry or who work in areas outside of Europe or Anglophone contexts. Cord Whitaker and Helen Young have recently argued that professional medieval studies and non-professional forms of medievalism can perpetuate a myth of a “monochrome” medieval past that denies the coeval status of people of non-European backgrounds (especially people of African or Asian ancestry). Michelle Warren, Kathleen Davis and Nadia Altschul have focused not so much on race but on expanding the cultural geographies of modern medievalism, exploring how notions of “the Middle Ages” have been deployed in historical contexts outside of Europe. The “Middle Ages in the Modern World” conference series, the Studies in Medievalism monograph series, and the Global Chaucers project are further examples of scholarly communities that have begun to take seriously how Europe’s medieval past is mediated, adapted, or transformed across contemporary non-Anglophone settings.

This roundtable solicits a range of voices to explore “where else” medieval studies might move—in rethinking the past, and reshaping a medievalist community in the present. How might academic medieval studies more effectively expand beyond the Latin (Christian) West to encompass other cultural perspectives? What forms of knowledge and expertise—academic or non-professional—can restructure implicitly Anglo-European frames of reference? What other paradigms for engaging with a “medieval” (or classical) past emerge outside of European cultures? How do departmental boundaries limit the projection of modern national or linguistic taxonomies into different orders of the Middle Ages? How might, for example, the presumptive parochialism and canonicity of an “English” department be understood in relation to the (perhaps equally) presumptive expansive boundaries of “Art” and “History” departments? Ultimately, this conversation hopes to entertain new approaches to the heterogeneity (racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious) of the historical past as well as broader range of perspectives (linguistic, national, and geographical) in our present.

Suzanne C. Akbari, Eileen A. Joy, Myra J. Seaman