Race and Identity in the Later Medieval World
Call for papers
Special Issue of Digital Philology
Guest Edited by Sarah Ifft Decker
In recent years, medievalists have increasingly been forced to grapple with white nationalists’ use and abuse the medieval past. New scholarship, as well as innovations in teaching, have increasingly emphasized a wide and diverse medieval world. The turn toward the “global Middle Ages” has emphasized interconnection and communication across seemingly disparate world regions, through trade, travel, and the transmission of ideas. Other work has centered the experiences of subordinated and marginalized ethnic and religious groups. Innovative approaches, using a wide range of literary, documentary, and visual source material, as well as archaeological evidence, has allowed us to explore and rethink the complex ways in which medieval people constructed race, ethnicity, and identity.
The thirteenth through fifteenth centuries were particularly crucial for the rise and development of new discourses about race, ethnicity, and identity. Thus far, however, relatively few scholars have focused in-depth on race and identity in the later Middle Ages, either looking at the entire medieval period as a cohesive unit or focusing on transformations in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries without looking toward further developments in the later Middle Ages. Categories of religion and race intertwined in complicated ways. Medieval Christians increasingly employed racialized language to describe Jews and Muslims. Expulsions targeted groups defined by their ethnicity, origin, and religion. Documents employed ethnic and religious signifiers, as well as references to skin color, to define people’s identity. Visual arts and literature shaped complicated portrayals of people of different ethnic backgrounds, which reveal attitudes about race and ethnicity that in some ways resemble those seen today, but in other ways reveal striking gaps between medieval and modern concepts of race and identity.
This special issue of Digital Philology invites submissions that critically examine the discourses surrounding race and identity developed and refined over the course of the later Middle Ages, with particular attention to what is distinct about ideas of race and identity in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries. How did texts and images construct and complicate ideas about race and identity? In what ways did these ideas shape the lived experiences of people in the medieval world, particularly people who belonged to subordinated and marginalized ethnic and religious communities? How were the categories of race, ethnicity, and religion interconnected, and how were they distinct? In what ways did these interrelated categories define how people understood their own identities? What role did ideas about racial, ethnic, and religious others play in creating the identity of the ruling majority? How did the ideas about race and identity developed in the later Middle Ages differ from those before the thirteenth century, and how did they transform over the last two centuries of the Middle Ages? This issue will seek to bring together an array of contributions which represent a variety of disciplinary perspectives as well as a diverse range of geographical and cultural contexts, including outside western Europe.
Please send abstracts of c.500 words by January 23rd, 2023, to Sarah Ifft Decker at email@example.com. Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be notified by February 6th, 2023 and will be expected to submit a full manuscript by January 30th, 2024. Manuscripts will be peer-reviewed, and authors are reminded that acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee publication.