Above Image: The northeast face of World Trade Center (south tower) after being struck by a plane in the south face on September 11, 2001. Source: Wiki Creative Commons.
A number of medievalists and their followers are commenting in articles and on social media about the appropriation of the Middle Ages by modern white supremacists or “Nazis.” Indeed, a significant number of scholars in the literary camp of medieval studies have rallied around the notion that those teaching courses on the Middle Ages need to actively and urgently challenge such narratives in the classroom. This seems to be particularly the case with a popular academic website called In the Middle, where several medieval scholars write or comment on related issues. One recent essay by Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College, was widely shared on social media and has firmly emphasized such a goal, claiming that “objectivist neutrality” by scholars teaching in academic disciplines that focus on the Middle Ages no longer works “because it facilitates white supremacists/white nationalists/KKK/Nazis and their horrific deployment of the Middle Ages.” Professor Kim issues both a wake up call and a rallying cry for scholars to pro-actively work against white supremacist narratives in the classroom, noting that because professors are authorities teaching medieval subjects they are, “in fact, ideological arms dealers.” Her essay expresses concern over the violence associated with white supremacy, historical linkages between white supremacy and academia, and the responsibility of scholars to clearly signal to their students that they themselves are not white supremacists or some of their students will “absolutely question” if they can “speak in your class with safety.” The full text of Professor Kim’s essay can be read here. Continue reading