Medieval Chivalry, the Crusades, and the Modern Far-Right | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

Medieval Chivalry, the Crusades, and the Modern Far-Right

Middle Ages; Crusades; Racism; Far-Right Politics

Cord J. Whitaker (Assistant Professor of English, Wellesley College)

October 1, 2019

The Middle Ages are in the news a lot these days—from the invocation of the “Crusades” after 9/11 to the “medieval” plight of women in some areas of the modern Middle East to alt-right protesters dressing as chivalric knights and Vikings and using medieval symbols during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. How do we teach students to understand and navigate a historical period that justifies ideas as varied as the Disney princess and terroristic violence? In this webinar, medieval studies and history of race expert Cord J. Whitaker leads participants through an exploration of far-and alt-right understandings of feudalism, caste systems, and racial homogeny in medieval Europe. We will also consider the Middle Ages’—and especially the Crusades’—roles in constructing the racial concepts of blackness and whiteness in the modern world. The webinar will include strategies for using students’ everyday experiences to teach these concepts inductively and intellectual strategies for resisting the further cooptation of the Middle Ages for racist objectives.


History / Education Studies / Middle Ages / Crusades / Racism / Far-Right Politics /