Inclusive Pedagogies in Medieval Studies

Marjorie Housley
Courtney Barajas

While the racist, sexist, and heterocentric foundations of medieval studies have been known and critiqued by scholars for decades, it is only in recent years that they have been discussed in broad contexts across the field. Early medieval studies in particular has its institutional foundations in nationalist and colonialist rhetorics of nineteenth-century. As such, much of the earliest scholarship on the medieval North Atlantic--and therefore much of the work that has developed from that early research--has been limited by antiquated and sometimes dangerous approaches to nation, race, gender, and identity. At the same time, contemporary white nationalist rhetoric in North America and Europe draws extensively on medieval and medievalist symbols, concepts, and imagery, making it clear that medievalists must consider these (mis)appropriations and ideologies in their research and public outreach. Recent scholarship such as Geraldine Heng's The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages and Dorothy Kim's Digital Whiteness & Medieval Studies underlines the significance and implications of this work.

Even more recently, workshops on whiteness and marginalization in early medieval studies at the Kalamazoo ICMS have led to increased discussion about how best to approach these issues in the classroom. Building on those conversations, this seminar invites papers that explore the potential for radically-inclusive pedagogies in medieval studies. What resources are there for including discourses on race & ethnicity in medieval studies courses? How can teachers--who are often teaching high courseloads with large classes, low pay, and less support--create courses that effectively engage with these topics when they often have no training in these critical approaches? How should white teachers and students alike balance thinking about/processing their whiteness and a desire to make practical changes? How can representation in medieval studies classrooms create classroom environments that welcome students and faculty of color, queer folks, and others who have traditionally not been represented in these courses?

While one strand of this seminar might center on theoretically-focused discussions of medieval studies pedagogy, another might focus on specific courses, class projects, or inclusive teaching tools. All seminar participants will be given access to a shared Google Drive so that materials can be pre-circulated before the conference and shared after the event; thus, all seminar participants will leave with shared readings, teaching tools, and best practices for creating or adapting medieval studies courses that engage with and question assumptions about race and identity in the medieval world.

Possible topics might include:

  • Working with material in translation
  • Medievalism & Adaptation
  • Teaching Trauma
  • Race, Racism, & White Supremacy
  • Nostalgia and Anachronism
  • Sex, Sexuality, & Sexual Violence
We invite proposals from scholars working in all disciplines. Please send 250-word abstracts to and by July 1, 2018.