Spring 2023

Race and Otherness in the Middle Ages

Listed in: English, as ENGL-330  |  European Studies, as EUST-330


Ingrid L. Nelson (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 330 and EUST 330) [Before 1800] By many accounts, a concept of “race” does not emerge in the West until the colonizing of the New World in the Renaissance. Yet medieval people had many ways of identifying, exoticizing, excluding, and discriminating against “others.” This was often framed in terms of religion (e.g., Christianity vs. Islam), but it also manifests in terms of physiognomic description and ideas of monstrosity in medieval romances and quest narratives. In this course, we will explore how the “othering” of certain medieval peoples creates a racialized language and discourse at once specific to the Middle Ages and its literature and relevant to our current understanding of race. We will read from medieval travel narratives (The Travels of Sir John Mandeville), crusade romances (Richard Coer de Lion), medieval drama, and romances by Chaucer and others alongside critical race theory and historical scholarship to give context to our discussions. We will also explore how the Middle Ages have been racialized in contemporary political and popular discourse. Our course will include visitors working at the vanguard of these debates.

Limited to 25 students. Professor Nelson.

How to handle overenrollment: Sophomores will have priority. Preference given to ENGL and EUST majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, artistic work.

ENGL 330 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM FROS 211
Th 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM FROS 211


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2023