Session Title

The Language of Race in Medieval English Literature

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Journal of English and Germanic Philology (JEGP)

Organizer Name

Robert J. Meyer-Lee; Renée R. Trilling

Organizer Affiliation

Agnes Scott College; Univ. of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Presider Name

Robert J. Meyer-Lee

Paper Title 1

What Does Anglo-Saxon Mean? Pre-Conquest to the Present

Presenter 1 Name

David Wilton

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Texas A&M Univ.

Paper Title 2

Early Middle English Adaptation and Translation: The Language of Race in Layamon's Brut

Presenter 2 Name

Coral Lumbley

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Paper Title 3

"Black as a Moor": The Racial Alterity of the Peasant in Romance

Presenter 3 Name

Robert Epstein

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Fairfield Univ.

Start Date

11-5-2018 1:30 PM

Session Location

Sangren 1710

Description

As much recent work has shown (e.g., Geraldine Heng in Literature Compass 2011), the category of race has a long continuous history that reaches back through the Middle Ages and beyond. Nonetheless, like all such fuzzy social concepts of long duration, precisely how that category functioned in social practice (that is, what it meant) has shifted along the vectors of time and place, making the relation between the category as we understand it now and how it was understood in the texts that we study an important area of research. The very volatility of the category in the present, and especially the abusive misappropriation of medieval ideas about race in some quarters, make this area of research especially urgent.

As the principal evidence we have for medieval ideas of race is of course linguistic, this session presents new work on the words and phrases in specific medieval literary texts (and in texts about those texts) that establish the category of race. Together the papers span the Old English / Middle English divide, so that as a whole the session examines the continuities and changes in the language of race in English across the medieval period.

Robert J. Meyer-Lee and Renée R. Trilling

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May 11th, 1:30 PM

The Language of Race in Medieval English Literature

Sangren 1710

As much recent work has shown (e.g., Geraldine Heng in Literature Compass 2011), the category of race has a long continuous history that reaches back through the Middle Ages and beyond. Nonetheless, like all such fuzzy social concepts of long duration, precisely how that category functioned in social practice (that is, what it meant) has shifted along the vectors of time and place, making the relation between the category as we understand it now and how it was understood in the texts that we study an important area of research. The very volatility of the category in the present, and especially the abusive misappropriation of medieval ideas about race in some quarters, make this area of research especially urgent.

As the principal evidence we have for medieval ideas of race is of course linguistic, this session presents new work on the words and phrases in specific medieval literary texts (and in texts about those texts) that establish the category of race. Together the papers span the Old English / Middle English divide, so that as a whole the session examines the continuities and changes in the language of race in English across the medieval period.

Robert J. Meyer-Lee and Renée R. Trilling