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Disturbing Times edited by Catherine E. Karkov, Anna Kłosowska, & Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei is Out Now

Published onJun 04, 2020
Disturbing Times edited by Catherine E. Karkov, Anna Kłosowska, & Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei is Out Now

This book is a disturbance. It participates in the current movement whose aim is to break up the tranquility, the settled condition that has been accepted as Medieval Studies for far too long — the settled condition that led to so many of our colleagues tolerating a racist joke or feeling that the appropriation of medieval symbols and the violence instigated by supremacists in Charlottesville or Ayodhya are not their concerns. It looks both backwards and forwards, working to decenter and recenter the medieval that we study, the disciplines that have constructed the medieval as a safe and distant place in the past far removed from the concerns of the contemporary world, and the medievalism that has used the medieval to construct and maintain racist, misogynistic, and oppressive agendas and power structures.

Published today at punctum books, Catherine E. Karkov, Anna Kłosowska, and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei edit a collection of essays on scholarship’s relation to racist power structures in Disturbing Times: Medieval Pasts, Reimagined Futures. This project is available in print and digital open access at

About the Book

From Kehinde Wiley to W.E.B. Du Bois, from Nubia to Cuba, Willie Doherty’s terror in ancient landscapes to the violence of institutional Neo-Gothic, Reagan’s AIDS policies to Beowulf fanfiction, this richly diverse volume brings together art historians and literature scholars to articulate a more inclusive, intersectional medieval studies. It will be of interest to students working on the diaspora and migration, white settler colonialism and pogroms, Indigenous studies and decolonial methodology, slavery, genocide, and culturecide. The authors confront the often disturbing legacies of medieval studies and its current failures to own up to those, and also analyze fascist, nationalist, colonialist, anti-Semitic, and other ideologies to which the medieval has been and is yoked, collectively formulating concrete ethical choices and aims for future research and teaching.

In the face of rising global fascism and related ideological mobilizations, contemporary and past, and of cultural heritage and history as weapons of symbolic and physical oppression, this volume’s chapters on Byzantium, Medieval Nubia, Old English, Hebrew, Old French, Occitan, and American and European medievalisms examine how educational institutions, museums, universities, and individuals are shaped by ethics and various ideologies in research, collecting, and teaching.

Table of Contents

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, Catherine Karkov, and Anna Kłosowska, “Introduction: Disturbance”

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, “Scholarship as Biography: An Allegorical Reading of the Philological Work of G.M. Browne”

Andrea Myers Achi & Seeta Chaganti, “‘Semper Novi Quid ex Africa’: Redrawing the Borders of Medieval African Art and Considering Its Implications for Medieval Studies”

Eva Frojmovic, “Disorienting Hebrew Book Collecting”

Anna Kłosowska, “The Etymology of Slave

Roland Betancourt, “The Exiles of Byzantium: Form, Historiography, and Recuperation”

Joshua Davies, “Confederate Gothic”

Alison Killilea, “‘Die, defenceless, primitive natives!’: Colonialism, Gender, and Militarism in The Legacy of Heorot

Catherine A.M. Clarke, with Adam Miyashiro, Megan Cavell, Daniel Thomas, Stewart Brookes, Diane Watt, and Jennifer Neville, “Twenty-five Years of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Studies: Looking Back, Looking Forward”

Carla María Thomas, “The Medieval Literature Survey Reimagined: Intersectional and Inclusive Praxis in a U.S. College Classroom”

About the Editors

Catherine E. Karkov is Professor of Art History in the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds where she works on early medieval England and the medieval modern. Her most recent publications include Imagining Anglo-Saxon England: Utopia, Heterotopia, Dystopia (Boydell Press, forthcoming 2020), and the edited collection Slow Scholarship: Medieval Research and the Neoliberal University (D.S. Brewer, 2019)

Anna Kłosowska is Professor of French at Miami University. She published Queer Love in the Middle Ages (2005) and edited Madeleine de l'Aubespine's Selected Poems (2007). She authored or co-authored thirty-five articles or book chapters and edited/co-edited five volumes and special issues of journals, primarily on queer studies, including a currently co-edited volume in progress on Trans before Trans. She currently works on slavery, race, and colonization in medieval and early modern France.

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei received a PhD in Media & Communications from the European Graduate School and another PhD in Modern Thought from the University of Aberdeen. He is a philologist and co-director of open-access publishing platform punctum books. He is a specialist in Old Nubian and co-editor-in-chief of Dotawo. Monographs include A Reference Grammar of Old Nubian (Peeters, forthcoming 2020) and Cross-Examinations (MER. Paper Kunsthalle, 2015). His three-volume work Lapidari (punctum, 2015) provides the first complete overview of socialist monumentality in Albania. As a translator, Van Gerven Oei works mostly with anonymous Makuritan Nubian scribes and more recent authors such as Jean Daive, Hervé Guibert, Werner Hamacher, Dick Raaijmakers, Avital Ronell, and Nachoem M. Wijnberg. His scholarly work has appeared in Afterall, Glossa, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology, postmedieval, and Theory & Event, among other venues.

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