Session Title

Historiographical Examination of Misogyny, Non-Heteronormativity, and Racism in Medieval Scholarship

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship (SMFS)

Organizer Name

Shyama Rajendran

Organizer Affiliation

Krea Univ.

Presider Name

Afrodesia E. McCannon

Presider Affiliation

New York Univ.

Paper Title 1

Isabella of France: Queen of England or Whore of Babylon?

Presenter 1 Name

Tatum Tullis

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Paper Title 2

Should We Be Ashamed of Art's History? or, My Least Favorite Quotes from Art Historiography

Presenter 2 Name

Corine L. Schleif

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Arizona State Univ.

Paper Title 3

Respondent

Presenter 3 Name

Matthew Gabriele

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ.

Paper Title 4

Respondent

Presenter 4 Name

Bridget Whearty

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Binghamton Univ.

Start Date

7-5-2020 1:30 PM

Session Location

Fetzer 2016

Description

While recent attention has been drawn to the explicitly white supremacist foundations of medieval studies as a discipline, the widespread belief that the medieval past was a monochromatic one, and the contemporary weaponization of medieval iconography by the alt-right, less attention has been explicitly paid to the way that bias, conscious and unconscious, makes its way into medieval studies scholarship. From Tolkien's claim that Ethiopians were like the inhabitants of hell and were a "diabolic folk" in 1932, to Norman Cantor's claim in 1963 that homosexuality was a "wasting spiritual disease in the individual" that led to the end of civilizations, to Nicholas Reynolds' 1988 description of rape as "rough justice to naughty ladies," to the description of Bella Millett as "young and mini-skirted" in the preface to her fetschrift in 2009, clearly no period in the discipline is exempt or innocent. This session seeks submissions that explicitly engage with scholarly writing in the discipline that reflect misogyny, non-heteronormativity, racism/white supremacy, and other forms of exclusion. We do so in order to discuss the unexamined and pervasive biases that both shape the foundations and current contours of our field; to understand how the culture of the field systematically excludes students and scholars by creating a hostile environment; and to envision alternative vocabularies and paths forward to a more inclusive, rather than a simply diverse, medieval studies that is ethically committed to a more just past and present. Shyama Rajendran

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May 7th, 1:30 PM

Historiographical Examination of Misogyny, Non-Heteronormativity, and Racism in Medieval Scholarship

Fetzer 2016

While recent attention has been drawn to the explicitly white supremacist foundations of medieval studies as a discipline, the widespread belief that the medieval past was a monochromatic one, and the contemporary weaponization of medieval iconography by the alt-right, less attention has been explicitly paid to the way that bias, conscious and unconscious, makes its way into medieval studies scholarship. From Tolkien's claim that Ethiopians were like the inhabitants of hell and were a "diabolic folk" in 1932, to Norman Cantor's claim in 1963 that homosexuality was a "wasting spiritual disease in the individual" that led to the end of civilizations, to Nicholas Reynolds' 1988 description of rape as "rough justice to naughty ladies," to the description of Bella Millett as "young and mini-skirted" in the preface to her fetschrift in 2009, clearly no period in the discipline is exempt or innocent. This session seeks submissions that explicitly engage with scholarly writing in the discipline that reflect misogyny, non-heteronormativity, racism/white supremacy, and other forms of exclusion. We do so in order to discuss the unexamined and pervasive biases that both shape the foundations and current contours of our field; to understand how the culture of the field systematically excludes students and scholars by creating a hostile environment; and to envision alternative vocabularies and paths forward to a more inclusive, rather than a simply diverse, medieval studies that is ethically committed to a more just past and present. Shyama Rajendran