HIST 3060-WGST 4800: Europe of the High Middle Ages

HIST 3060-WGST 4800

Dr. Thersea Earenfight

The medieval western European Christian past is being used as a weapon by extremist violent supremacist groups such as white nationalists, the KKK, and Nazi extremist groups to promote a false picture of medieval Europe as free of prejudice. But that image of the past is a fiction, a tyrannical construct, and a dangerous fabrication that distorts the real lived experiences of people in the Middle Ages and seemingly gives permission for people today to use the past to excuse present-day prejudices. Racial phenomena, institutions, thinking, practices, and laws existed among Christians in Europe before there was a recognizable vocabulary of race to name them for what they were. The medieval period was not a pre-political, pre-racial era. And race is deeply entwined with sexuality demonize and denigrate others who think differently, practice a different religion, or don’t look like you. This class will explore new research on how religion (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), sexuality, and gender were selectively deployed to identify differences among humans. White men in power exploited these differences, essentialized them as absolute and fundamental, and used them to distribute positions and powers differentially to human groups in practices that we would today call acts of race. 


This course is cross-listed with WGST 4800, Seminar in Gender, Sexuality, and Race.