Fighting Against Racist Appropriations of Medieval History and Culture
White Nationalists and neo-Nazis have always appropriated medieval imagery and language to support their cause, but especially so now in the age of universal electronic access. UMKC professors of medieval studies challenge these appropriations by revealing the connections between contemporary issues and medieval concepts of race, gender, and identity.
The UMKC Medieval and Early Modern Studies program has launched a lecture series designed to debunk myths about the Middle Ages being pushed by hate groups. “The Medieval Then and Now: Race, Gender, and Identity” will refute notions such as the belief that medieval Europe’s population was entirely white and Christian, or that women had no legal rights or public roles in the medieval era.
The series of discussions, which begin February 11 and run through May, features speakers from Wellesley, Penn State, and Macalester College, as well as members of the UMKC Medieval Studies faculty.
The series schedule includes:
April 12, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. | UMKC, 101 Katz Hall
“White Supremacy and the Alt-Right’s Middle Ages”
Speaker: Dr. Cord Whitaker, Assistant Professor of English, Wellesley College
May 16, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. | Plaza Library
“Gender and Sexuality: How Medieval Are We Still?”
Speakers: Drs Virginia Blanton, Professor of English; Kathy Krause, Professor of French; and Linda Mitchell, M.J. Phillips Starr Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, UMKC.
Co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library
February 11, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. | Plaza Branch, Kansas City Public Library, Cohen Conference Center
“Belle da Costa Greene: A Medievalist Luminary and the Shadow of White Nationalism”
Speaker: Dr. Sierra Lomuto, Assistant Professor of English, Macalester College
The first lecture, “Belle da Costa Greene: A Medievalist Luminary and the Shadow of White Nationalism,” focused on the woman who helped financier J.P. Morgan amass the incredible collection of medieval books, artifacts, and drawings housed in New York City’s Morgan Library while hiding her African-American heritage throughout her life.
March 7, 2019 | 6:30 p.m. | Plaza Library
“She Nourishes Them According to Her Religion: Interfaith Marriage, Conversion, and Transmission of Culture in the Medieval Islamic World”
Speaker: Dr. Janina Safran, Associate Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University. Co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library
Marriages across religions troubled religious leaders and families in the Islamic world of the ninth and tenth centuries for many of the same reasons expressed in modern day societies, although the circumstances of interfaith marriages were different. Dr. Safran’s talk explained the context for such marriages and some of their implications for conversion, for family life, and for the transformation of culture, with a focus on examples from Islamic Spain.