Race Before Modernity – Book Club

Conceived in the spirit of developing a practical skillset, the “Race Before Modernity” book club grows out of the racially-charged protests of summer 2020. We view the club as the beginning to a long conversation within Medieval Studies at Princeton, one that aims to foster open dialogue about the history of racial biases. How, as scholars in a wide array of fields, can we contribute to positive change within our disciplines? How can we talk sensitively, and intelligently, about the history of structures of oppression that have long outlived the time periods in which they were born? We invite graduate students interested in exploring these themes to join us this year as we read an array of books that deal with racism and identity before modernity. Thanks to a generous grant from the Princeton Humanities Council, we have been able to bring authors to many of our book discussions.

More information on meetings for 2023-24 will be available shortly. For more information, please contact Erica Passoni (Graduate Student, German) or Anna D’Elia (Medieval Studies Program Manager).

Previous List of Titles:

Spring 2023:

February 2023. David Nirenberg, Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today (The University of Chicago Press, 2014).

April 2022. Surekha Davies. Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Fall 2022:

November 2022. Denise Eileen McCoskey, Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy (London: I.B. Tauris & Company, 2019).

December 2022. (Joint Meeting with Medieval Studies Book Club). Claire Weeda, Ethnicity In Medieval Europe, 950-1250: Medicine, Power and Religion. (York: York Medieval Press, 2021).

Fall 2021:

October 2021. Matthew X. Vernon, The Black Middle Ages: Race and the Construction of the Middle Ages (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). The session was facilitated by Andrew Finn (English).

December 2021. Rogers Brubaker, Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities (Princeton, PU Press: 2016). The session was facilitated by Belén Unzueta (Sociology).

Fall 2020:

October 2020. Catherine E. Karkov, Anna Kłosowska, and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, eds., Disturbing Times: Medieval Pasts, Reimagined Futures, 2020.

December 2020. Terence Keel, Divine Variations: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science, 2018.

Spring 2021:

February 2021. Sara Lipton, Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitism, 2014.

April 2021. Jean-Frédéric Schaub, Race is about Politics: Lessons from History, 2019

Cord J. Whitaker, Black Metaphors: How Modern Racism Emerged from Medieval Race-Thinking, 2019

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