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 are pleased to be able to invite the authors we read to discuss their own scholarly practices with us.

Justin Willson, Graduate Student, Art & Archaeology
Earnestine Qiu, Graduate Student, Art & Archaeology

List of Titles:



  • Friday, February 12 at 12 pm EST (over Zoom) – Sara Lipton, Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitism, 2014. . If you would like to participate, please RSVP by Monday January 11th, including your shipping address, to Justin Willson (jwillson@princeton.edu), and we will have Labyrinth mail you a copy of the book. Once attendees have been confirmed, we will forward a Zoom link. 
  • Friday, April 2 at 12 pm EST (Zoom) – 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

If you would like to participate, please RSVP to Justin Willson (jwillson@princeton.edu), and we will forward the Zoom link and make a donation to the book publisher.

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