Decentering Whiteness in Medieval Texts, in the Field and the Classroom (Workshop)

Harbour Centre 2050

Mary Rambaran-Olm (Independent Scholar),
Nahir Otaño-Gracia (Beloit College)
Valerie M. Wilhite (Independent Scholar)

Representatives of the Medievalists of Colour group are sponsoring a unit of cohesive sessions with the intent of broadening the discussion of Medieval Studies through an as-yet less popular theoretical framework - that of Critical Race Theory. This is a theory that can give its readers and engaged actors fresh perspectives on not only their objects of study, but their inscription (engagement or practice) in the field, and of great importance, their practice on campus and in the classroom. The purpose of this workshop is to encourage participants to seek out texts, themes and branches of medieval studies beyond white, Anglo-centric literature, themes and ideas. Participants interested in coming to the workshop should be prepared to read a number of brief critical race theory texts in advance of the conference. The workshop will not be a session of papers. Instead, participants will engage with the materials and the others in the room with interactive activities that promise to inspire a delight in and commitment to the peoples, objects, and happenings beyond the white, Anglo North Atlantic. While we often focus on the past, as our object of study, the workshop will encourage considering our own position in the present and its influence on how we understand what we see as well as how what we say, write, and do as teachers, colleagues, writers, artists, and actors shapes the future idea of the Middle Ages and impressions of the field. One major feature of the workshop will include a session on 'how to be a better ally,' which will allow participants to engage in discussion on what ally-ship means and how one can strengthen ally-ship in the workplace and classroom. A number of medievalists of colour will present their work and/or individual stories to challenge participants to consider/reconsider what it means to be an ally. A series of paper sessions will introduce texts and themes outside the traditional Canon despite falling squarely within the 'materia,' the history, of the North Atlantic. Papers will study issues of translation, paths of interchange and flux, notions of whiteness, regulating relationships between entities within the North Atlantic and without as well as how these sorts of studies are received by the field, the public, and students in the classroom.

Day 1:

Eileen Fradenburg-Joy (Punctum Books), “What Makes the Desert Beautiful is that Somewhere it Hides a Well: On the Importance of the Politics of Friendship & Allyship in Medieval Studies”
Eduardo Ramos (Penn State University), “Looking Back and Looking Forward in the Medieval Studies Classroom”
Shannon Lewis-Simpson (Memorial University of Newfoundland), “Indigenizing Vinland”

Day 2:

Nahir Otaño-Gracia
Nicole Lopez-Jantzen (CUNY - Borough of Manhattan Community College)
John R. Black