Medieval Studies: Definitions, Debates, and the Parameters of the Field

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Image by Mikel Jaso. Published in New York Times, May 5, 2019, here.

 

Yesterday’s front-page article in the print edition of New York Times bore the headline “Symbols of Past Used by Right Upset Scholars.” That the online version’s header is “Medieval Scholars Joust with White Nationalists. And One Another” is a rhetorical shift worth questioning.

The article’s many directions are equally fascinating:

*the culture of the International Congress on Medieval Studies;

*demographics of the field of European Medievalism;

*narratives of the Anglo-Saxon race—roots, routes, and modernity—in Europe and the US;

*critical theory, feminist critique of power and patriarchy, and decolonizing a field;

*apolitical scholarship as an ideal;

*the Medievalists of Color group;

*white privilege and white fragility;

*Facebook fights and the resource of social media;

*white nationalism and white chauvinism—past and present;

*overhauling the academic conference submission process;

*the Belle da Costa Greene Award (est. 2018) and passing for white.

The Times reporter Jennifer Schuessler runs through these topics differently. She conveys the complexity of terrain in some passages and displays her amusement with the debates in others. “A field increasingly torn by vitriolic spats and racial politics”—anchorage text on the jump page in the print edition—sadly demonstrates the limited way in which Schuessler and the editor who worked with her on this piece see things.

There’s nothing easy about change in twenty-first century academia: it’s well- communicated in the letters accompanying the article—634 of them at present count. They’re worth a look.

This year’s International Congress on Medieval Studies Conference opens in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Thurs., May 9. The next day, May 10, is the anniversary of Greene’s death.

 

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Belle da Costa Greene. Photo by Clarence White. Published on Pinterest.

Da Costa Greene (born Dec. 13, 1879/1883 in Alexandria Virginia; died May 10, 1950 in New York) was elected of fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 1939. A librarian at Princeton and later for J. P. Morgan, Greene was the director of the Pierpont Morgan Library from 1924 to 1928.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New resource about artist Maud Sulter (1960-2008)

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Maud Sulter. Les Bijoux (The Jewels), 2002. Large-format, colour Polaroid photograph. Source here and discussed here.
There is a newly published website about the late, Scottish-Ghanaian artist and writer Maud Sulter:
The publishers of the site make this request:
“Please have a look round the site, there are lots of embedded links leading to more information on Maud’s exhibitions, publications and what’s happened in the past few years.
We need your help in circulating the website.  Please click, like and share the link with everyone who would be interested.”

Memorial Service for Helen Shannon @ University of the Arts

Helen Shannon Memorial-flyer

Panel on “The Chinese and Iron Road” at University of San Francisco, 4/11/2017, 5:00-6:30 pm

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Horace Baker (engraver), “Across the Continent—The Frank Leslie Transcontinental Excursion,” published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspapers, Apr. 27, 1878, page 129, at Online Archives of California.

Caption also reads “Rounding Cape Horn at the head of the great American Canyon with a view of the South Fork of the American River, where gold was first discovered in 1848. Chinese laborers.”

 

Panelists Sue Lee (Chinese Historical Society of America), Hilton Obenzinger (Stanford University’s Chinese Railroad Worker’s in North America Project), Paulette Liang (a descendant of a Chinese person who worked on the railroad) and James Zarsadiaz (USF) meet to discuss “Reconstructing History, Reconstructing Lives: Chinese Laborers and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad” at USF’s Gleeson Library tomorrow.

The event is free and open to the public.

Marvel executive says emphasis on diversity may have alienated readers

How many things can be blamed on diversity?

Sian Cain’s article in today’s Guardian makes it clear that Marvel VP of Sales David Gabriel’s reasoning isn’t reasoned. Recently, Gabriel told a gathering that some comic store owners say their customers “have had enough” of new female and ethnic minority characters.

What customers?

Is there a limit to diversity?

Gabriel is not alone in the effort to make diversity appear unprofitable and to present good diversity practices as charitable acts. . .and bad business. Such false beliefs are widespread. Yet, they are counter to research that proves otherwise.

As always, the comments from Guardian readers are worth perusing.  There’re more than 1,000 of them to date. These letters provide great fodder for thinking about the power of representation and the shifts in visual culture.

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Teaching Tool: Exploration of Appalachian Identity through Photography

I teach art history and art appreciation in the Department of Art and Design at Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky. Most of my students are first-generation college students, and many of them come from the economically-depressed counties within a short driving distance of my institution. Through in-class discussion and office hour chats, I have […]

via Appalachian Identities and Photography as Social Commentary — Art History Teaching Resources

EXH: Muslims in New York @ Museum of the City of New York

Muslims have been woven into the fabric of New York since the city’s origins as New Amsterdam, and the Museum is happy to share highlights from our collection which shed light on this deep history in our current exhibition, Muslim in New York. The size and diversity of New York’s Muslim community has continued to […]

via Muslim in New York: Highlights from the Photography Collection — MCNY Blog: New York Stories

EXH: “Shifting: African American Women Artists and the Power of Their Gaze” @ David Driskell Center, opens March 2nd

The David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park is proud to announce its spring exhibition, Shifting: African American Women Artists and the Power of Their Gaze. The exhibition, organized by the Driskell Center, is curated by the David C. Driskell Center’s Executive Director, Professor Curlee R. Holton, assisted by Deputy Director, Dorit Yaron. The exhibition will be on display at the Driskell Center from Thursday, March 2, 2017 through Friday, May 26, 2017, with an opening reception on Thursday, March 2nd, from 5-7PM.

Q&A with Lubaina Himid–“Black British Art,” Then and Now

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Lubaina Himid, The Rapid Effects of Abolition, from the Swallow Hard: The Lancaster Dinner Service series (2007), an assortment of overpainted plates, bowls and terrines at A-N.

Lubaina Himid is enjoying two one-artist exhibitions in the UK this year. Check out her interview with A-N and her piece in Frieze on her influences. About time!

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Lubaina Himid’s grandmother, MaShulan, photographed in Zanzibar in 1954, and reproduced as a poster for the exhibition ‘New Robes for MaShulan – Lubaina Himid, Work Past and Present’, Rochdale Art Gallery, 1987. Courtest: the artist at Frieze

 

 

How Ya Like Me Now?

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Last week The Guardian reported on this ridiculously dumb blunder (a euphemism for what it really was).

Richard Dyer, more than twenty years ago, wrote about the position of whiteness as the norm, and this incident reminds us that theories trickle down at variable rates.

Hard not to think of David Hammons’ bitingly incisive  How Ya Like Me Now? (1988), a piece that generated its own complicated response. As is the case with so many Hammons’ projects, How Ya Like Me Now?  seems to speak to our moment, too.