Monday, July 17, 2017
CFP: “From Intolerance to Inclusion: Intersections between Teaching and Research of Persecution in the Middle Ages” (May 2018)
The panel, “From Intolerance to Inclusion: Intersections between Teaching and Research of Persecution in the Middle Ages,” proposes to look at the ways research and teaching of intolerance and persecution of marginalized groups in medieval Europe and the Mediterranean can promote a more inclusive vision of the Middle Ages. In recent years, public perceptions of medieval societies as culturally and racially homogeneous—explicitly antithetical and hostile to modern concepts of diversity—have gained a particularly problematic currency among conservative and right-wing groups. Many a critic has noticed that this interpretation casts the Middle Ages, with a sense of wistful nostalgia, as “the good old days”: racially pure, sexually normative past dominated by universal Christianity and patriarchy. It is up to medievalists—as educators, as well as scholars—to dispel this dangerous misinterpretation of the Middle Ages among our students and the public.
This panel’s organizers would like to suggest that medievalists have championed, researched, and taught a more inclusive vision of the Middle Ages for decades, especially in works of scholarship and courses that deal—perhaps surprisingly—with intolerance and persecution during this period. Studies of and courses on medieval heresies and inquisition, interreligious violence, suppression of non-normative manifestations of gender and sexuality demonstrate, first and foremost, that the Middle Ages were racially, culturally, religiously, and sexually diverse. This panel will invite its participants to discuss their experience with both studying and teaching persecutions of marginalized groups in the Middle Ages and to share their approaches to teaching a more inclusive and multicultural vision of this period to their students and the general public.
Key questions include, but are not limited to the following:
- Strategies for promoting a balanced and inclusive understanding of the period in the classroom and beyond
- How discussion of persecuted minorities in the Middle Ages can be usefully placed in modern context; what is gained or lost in the process?
- How to emphasize medieval diversity in the classroom beyond mere “tokenism”
- What scholars of the Middle Ages can do to counteract the “alt-right’s” attempts to claim the period as ultra-conservative utopia
We hope that the panel will initiate conversations and stimulate future scholarship.