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Black Legacies: Race and the European Middle Ages by Lynn T. Ramey. Gainesville. University Press of Florida. hardcover. 192 pages. September 2014. 9 x 6. 9780813060071.

 

 

9780813060071FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

 

   ‘A provocative study of western racial attitudes Ramey adds an important, likely controversial, and well-written scholarly challenge to the argument that racism in the West was the product of nineteenth-century science ‘—Hamilton Cravens, coeditor of Race and Science. ‘The significance of this book extends beyond the medieval past Black Legacies shows that behind myths of knights in shining armor and fair maidens lies a contested literary and cultural history of medievalism that troubles understandings of race Uncorrected Proof from the nineteenth century to today ‘—Russ Castronovo, author of Beautiful Democracy. Black Legacies looks at color-based prejudice in medieval and modern texts in order to reveal key similarities Bringing far-removed time periods into startling conversation, this book argues that certain attitudes and practices present in Europe’s Middle Ages were foundational in the development of the western concept of race Using historical, literary, and artistic sources, Lynn Ramey shows that twelfth- and thirteenth-century discourse was preoccupied with skin color and the coding of black as ‘evil’ and white as ‘good ‘ Ramey demonstrates that fears of miscegenation show up in all medieval European societies She pinpoints these same ideas in the rhetoric of later centuries Mapmakers and travel writers of the colonial era used medieval lore of ‘monstrous peoples’ to question the humanity of indigenous New World populations, and medieval arguments about humanness were employed to justify the slave trade Ramey even analyzes how race is Ramey Lynn Texplored in films set in medieval Europe, revealing an enduring fascination with the Middle Ages as a touchstone for processing and coping with racial conflict in the West today.

 

 

LYNN T. RAMEY is associate professor of French at Vanderbilt University She is the author of Christian, Saracen and Genre in Medieval French Literature: Imagination and Cultural Interaction in the French Middle Ages and coeditor of Race, Class, and Gender in ‘Medieval’ Cinema.

 

 

 

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