Session Title

Monstrous Medievalism: Toxic Appropriations of the Middle Ages in Modern Popular Culture and Thought

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application (MEARCSTAPA)

Organizer Name

Ilan Mitchell-Smith

Organizer Affiliation

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, California State Univ.-Long Beach

Presider Name

Larissa Tracy

Presider Affiliation

Longwood Univ.

Paper Title 1

White Nationalism, Scottish Identity, and the Declaration of Arbroath

Presenter 1 Name

Mark P. Bruce

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Bethel Univ.

Paper Title 2

The Problem of Loki, Again: Norse Mythology as a Battleground for Separatism or Inclusion

Presenter 2 Name

Ali Frauman

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Indiana Univ.-Bloomington

Paper Title 3

"Celtic" Crosses and White Supremacism

Presenter 3 Name

Maggie M. Williams

Presenter 3 Affiliation

William Paterson Univ./Material Collective

Start Date

11-5-2018 1:30 PM

Session Location

Bernhard Brown & Gold Room

Description

The medieval period continues to be misidentified both as a primitive ‘dark age’ and as an idealized utopian golden age of racial and religious homogeny. In both cases, aspects of medieval culture are appropriated and reimagined in ways that celebrate and promote the othering of certain racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should be uncomfortable that we share some interests with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other groups dedicated to the oppression, segregation, and even elimination of racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should feel even more uncomfortable when this othering—intentional or otherwise—becomes common popular culture medievalisms that use the Middle Ages—our Middle Ages—to advance their racist agendas, resulting in malicious acts against individuals and groups. In short, the Middle Ages are often put to monstrous work in modern popular thought and culture. These monstrous medievalisms use the period to foster some of the most pernicious ideologies of the present day and distort our understanding of the past. We ask, whose Middle Ages are they? And in so doing, we seek to confront these monstrous medievalisms, to unravel and make sense of them in order to dismantle the negative work they do.

Ilan Mitchell-Smith

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May 11th, 1:30 PM

Monstrous Medievalism: Toxic Appropriations of the Middle Ages in Modern Popular Culture and Thought

Bernhard Brown & Gold Room

The medieval period continues to be misidentified both as a primitive ‘dark age’ and as an idealized utopian golden age of racial and religious homogeny. In both cases, aspects of medieval culture are appropriated and reimagined in ways that celebrate and promote the othering of certain racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should be uncomfortable that we share some interests with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other groups dedicated to the oppression, segregation, and even elimination of racial and ethnic groups or cultures. Medievalists should feel even more uncomfortable when this othering—intentional or otherwise—becomes common popular culture medievalisms that use the Middle Ages—our Middle Ages—to advance their racist agendas, resulting in malicious acts against individuals and groups. In short, the Middle Ages are often put to monstrous work in modern popular thought and culture. These monstrous medievalisms use the period to foster some of the most pernicious ideologies of the present day and distort our understanding of the past. We ask, whose Middle Ages are they? And in so doing, we seek to confront these monstrous medievalisms, to unravel and make sense of them in order to dismantle the negative work they do.

Ilan Mitchell-Smith