Whose Middle Ages?
Teachable Moments for an Ill-Used Past
Fordham Series in Medieval Studies
Edited by Andrew Albin, Mary C. Erler, Thomas O'Donnell, Nicholas L. Paul and Nina Rowe
Introduction by David Perry
Afterword by Geraldine Heng
Contributions by Sandy Bardsley, Adam Bishop, Marian Bleeke, Will Cerbone, William Diebold, Fred Donner, Sarah Guérin, J. Patrick Hornbeck II, Lauren Mancia, Stephennie Mulder, W. Mark Ormrod, Pamela Patton, Nicholas L. Paul, Andrew Reeves, Ryan Szpiech, Magda Teter, Elizabeth Tyler, Cord Whitaker, Maggie Williams, Katherine Wilson and Helen Young
Published by: Fordham University Press
240 pages, 127.00 x 203.00 mm, 35
- ISBN: 9780823285563
- Published: October 2019
Whose Middle Ages? is an interdisciplinary collection of short, accessible essays intended for the nonspecialist reader and ideal for teaching at an undergraduate level. Each of twenty-two essays takes up an area where digging for meaning in the medieval past has brought something distorted back into the present: in our popular entertainment; in our news, our politics, and our propaganda; and in subtler ways that inform how we think about our histories, our countries, and ourselves. Each author looks to a history that has refused to remain past and uses the tools of the academy to read and re-read familiar stories, objects, symbols, and myths.
Whose Middle Ages? gives nonspecialists access to the richness of our historical knowledge while debunking damaging misconceptions about the medieval past. Myths about the medieval period are especially beloved among the globally resurgent far right, from crusading emblems on the shields borne by alt-right demonstrators to the on-screen image of a purely white European populace defended from actors of color by Internet trolls. This collection attacks these myths directly by insisting that readers encounter the relics of the Middle Ages on their own terms.
Each essay uses its author’s academic research as a point of entry and takes care to explain how the author knows what she or he knows and what kinds of tools, bodies of evidence, and theoretical lenses allow scholars to write with certainty about elements of the past to a level of detail that might seem unattainable. By demystifying the methods of scholarly inquiry, Whose Middle Ages? serves as an antidote not only to the far right’s errors of fact and interpretation but also to its assault on scholarship and expertise as valid means for the acquisition of knowledge.
David Perry | 1
Part I – Stories
The Invisible Peasantry
Sandy Bardsley | 14
The Hidden Narratives of Medieval Art
Katherine Anne Wilson | 23
Modern Intolerance and the Medieval Crusades
Nicholas L. Paul | 34
Blood Libel, a Lie and Its Legacies
Magda Teter | 44
Who’s Afraid of Shari‘a Law?
Fred M. Donner | 58
How Do We Find Out About Immigrants in Later Medieval England?
W. Mark Ormrod | 69
The Middle Ages in the Harlem Renaissance
Cord J. Whitaker | 80
Part II – Origins
Three Ways of Misreading Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an
Ryan Szpiech | 94
The Nazi Middle Ages
William J. Diebold | 104
What Would Benedict Do?
Lauren Mancia | 116
No, People in the Middle East Haven’t Been Fighting Since the Beginning of Time
Stephennie Mulder | 127
Ivory and the Ties That Bind
Sarah M. Guérin | 140
Blackness, Whiteness, and the Idea of Race in Medieval European Art
Pamela A. Patton | 154
England Between Empire and Nation in “The Battle of Brunanburh”
Elizabeth M. Tyler | 166
Whose Spain Is It, Anyway?
David A. Wacks | 181
Part III – #Hashtags
Modern Knights, Medieval Snails, and Naughty Nuns
Marian Bleeke | 196
Charting Sexuality and Stopping Sin
Andrew Reeves | 208
“Celtic” Crosses and the Myth of Whiteness
Maggie M. Williams | 220
Whitewashing the “Real” Middle Ages in Popular Media
Helen Young | 233
Real Men of the Viking Age
Will Cerbone | 243
Adam M. Bishop | 256
Own Your Heresy
J. Patrick Hornbeck II | 265
Afterword: Medievalists and the Education of Desire
Geraldine Heng | 275
Appendix I: Possibilities for Teaching—by Genre | 293
Appendix II: Possibilities for Teaching—by Course Theme | 296
List of Contributors | 301
Andrew Albin is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies at Fordham University. His scholarship in the fi eld of historical sound studies examines embodied listening practices, sound’s meaningful contexts, and the lived aural experiences of historical hearers—in a word, the sonorous past—as an object of critical inquiry. His work has been recognized with grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Medieval Academy of America, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He is the author of Richard Rolle’s Melody of Love: A Study and Translation with Manuscript and Musical Contexts (PIMS, 2018).
Mary C. Erler is Distinguished Professor of English at Fordham University and a member of the faculty of Fordham University’s Center for Medieval Studies.
Thomas O'Donnell is Co-Chair, Comparative Literature, Associate Professor of English and Medieval Studies, and a member of the faculty of Fordham University’s Center for Medieval Studies.
Nicholas L. Paul is Associate Professor of History at Fordham University. He received his MPhil in Medieval History and PhD in History from Cambridge University. His previous publications include To Follow in Their Footsteps: The Crusades and Family Memory in the High Middle Ages (Cornell, 2017) and the coedited collections Remembering the Crusades: Myth, Image, and Identity (Johns Hopkins, 2012), and, with Laura K. Morreale, The French of Outremer: Communities and Communications in the Crusading Mediterranean (Fordham, 2018).
Nina Rowe is Associate Professor of Art History and a member of the faculty of Fordham University’s Center for Medieval Studies.
David Perry—Professor of Medieval History at Dominican University from 2006 to 2017—is a columnist for Pacific Standard Magazine and a freelance journalist covering politics, history, education, and disability rights. His scholarly work focuses on Venice, the Crusades, and the Mediterranean world. He is the author of Sacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (Penn State, 2015).
Sandy Bardsley teaches history at Moravian College.
Adam M. Bishop obtained his PhD in medieval studies from the University of Toronto in 2011. He is currently an independent scholar researching the legal system of the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Marian Bleeke received her PhD in art history from the University of Chicago. She has taught at Beloit College, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and the State University of New York at Fredonia, and is currently Associate Professor of Art History and Director of General Education at Cleveland State University. Her first book, Motherhood and Meaning in Medieval Sculpture: Representations from France, c. 1100– 1500, was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2017.
Will Cerbone holds an MA from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. He is a writer and an editor of scholarly books in New York.
William J. Diebold is the Jane Neuberger Goodsell Professor of Art History and Humanities at Reed College. He has published extensively on early medieval topics, including his book Word and Image: An Introduction to Early Medieval Art (Routledge, 2001). He has taught these areas at Reed since 1987, and participates in the College’s humanities program, teaching both ancient Mediterranean and modern European courses.
Fred M. Donner is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Near Eastern History at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 1975 and has researched and written mainly on early Islamic history, Islamic historiography, and the Qur’an.
Sarah M. Guérin is Assistant Professor of Medieval Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines medieval ivory carving and has focused on the inter-regional trade networks that enabled exchange, work that has appeared in such journals as the Journal of Medieval History, al-Masaq, and The Medieval Globe. She is presently working on a monograph treating the first century of Gothic ivory carving called Ivory Palaces: Material, Belief, and Desire in Gothic Sculpture.
J. Patrick Hornbeck II is Chair and Professor of Theology at Fordham University. He is author of What Is a Lollard? (Oxford University Press, 2010), A Companion to Lollardy (Brill, 2016), and Remembering Wolsey (Fordham, 2019), as well as coeditor of More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church (Fordham, 2014) and Europe After Wyclif (Fordham, 2016).
Lauren Mancia is Assistant Professor of History at Brooklyn College. She is a scholar of the Western European Middle Ages, with specialties in medieval Christianity, the history of emotions, and medieval monasticism. She has published on her scholarly interests both in peer- reviewed academic journals and in publications for wider, more general audiences.
Stephennie Mulder is Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a specialist in Islamic art, architectural history, and archaeology. Her research interests include the art and architecture of Shi‘ism; the intersections between art, spatiality, and sectarian relationships in Islam; anthropological theories of art; material culture studies; theories of ornament and mimesis; and place and landscape studies. Mulder works on the conservation of antiquities and cultural heritage sites endangered by war and illegal trafficking.
W. Mark Ormrod, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of York, is the author of many books and articles on the politics and political culture of later medieval England, including Political Life in Medieval England, 1300– 1450 (Macmillan, 1995) and Edward III (Yale, 2011). He has collaborated extensively with the National Archives of the United Kingdom on the cataloguing and editing of medieval document collections. He was Principal Investigator of the major project “England’s Immigrants, 1330–1550,” funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom (2012– 15), and (with Bart Lambert and Jonathan Mackman) has coauthored Immigrant England, 1300-1550 (Manchester University Press, 2019).
Pamela A. Patton is Director of the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University. Her publications include two monographs, Pictorial Narrative in the Romanesque Cloister (Peter Lang, 2004) and Art of Estrangement: Redefining Jews in Reconquest Spain (Penn State, 2012), and the edited volume Envisioning Others: Race, Color, and the Visual in Iberia and Latin America (Brill, 2016). She serves as coeditor of the journal Studies in Iconography and as an area editor for the Oxford Bibliographies in Art History. Her current research and forthcoming publications concern the depiction and meanings of skin color in medieval Iberia against the backdrop of a multi ethnic, multicultural Mediterranean. Before joining the Index in 2015, she was Professor of Art History at Southern Methodist University.
Andrew Reeves earned his PhD from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies in 2009 and is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Middle Georgia State University. His research covers how laypeople and lowerranked clergy interacted in the later Middle Ages. His 2015 book, Religious Education in Thirteenth- Century England: The Creed and Articles of Faith (Brill, 2015), shows how clergy taught the basics of Christian doctrine to laypeople.
Ryan Szpiech teaches Spanish literature and Jewish studies at the University of Michigan.
Magda Teter is the Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History at Fordham University. She received her PhD in History from Columbia University in 2000. She specializes in early modern religious and cultural history, with emphasis on Jewish– Christian relations, the politics of religion, and transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. She is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and Sinners on Trial (Harvard, 2011).
Elizabeth M. Tyler is Professor of Medieval Literature. Her research and teaching focuses on the literary culture of England from the ninth to the twelfth century, that is from the time of Alfred the Great to the time of William of Malmesbury and Geoffrey of Monmouth. Situated at the intersection of literary study with intellectual, social, and political history, her work stresses the international nature of English literature and draws attention to the key role England plays in the flourishing of European literary culture across the early and high Middle Ages.
Cord J. Whitaker is Assistant Professor of English at Wellesley College where he researches and teaches late medieval English literature, especially Chaucer and romance. His research also focuses on medieval religious conflict and the history of race. He received his MA and PhD from Duke University.
Maggie M. Williams teaches at William Paterson University in New Jersey. She is a co-founder and Core Committee member of the Material Collective, and Series Editor of the Collective’s imprint from punctum books, Tiny Collections. In the past, she has worked on medieval stone crosses in Ireland, and her 2012 book Icons of Irishness from the Middle Ages to the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) deals with the use of such imagery in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More recently, she has been researching the white supremacist uses of the so-called “Celtic” cross.
Katherine Anne Wilson is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Chester. Her research interests lie in understanding the relationship between social and cultural change, and shifting patterns in the use of material culture in the later Middle Ages. She works and publishes on the biographies of producers and consumers of objects in medieval courts and urban centers as well as on the circulation of objects across medieval Europe.
Helen Young is a Lecturer in Literary Studies at Deakin University, Australia. Her current research interests are in medievalism and critical whiteness studies. She is most recently the author of Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness (Routledge, 2016).