This guest post by Sharon Rhodes considers a subject of great interest in medieval studies at present, the use of the term “Anglo-Saxon.” Rhodes takes a fresh approach to the subject, focusing on how to teach Old English language and literature (with relevance for the teaching of related subjects, such as medieval English art, history, etc.) without welcoming or fostering the racist fantasies about linguistic and cultural “purity” that have plagued the field more or less since its inception.
“As we celebrate, dwell in, and embrace the basic materiality of our objects, we work to find ways to foreground the material of the objects themselves into larger historical analysis.
It’s a well-known saying, a paraphrase of the International Workers of the World organizer Joe Hill’s last words. They’re not easy words to live by.
From Hitler’s “Third Reich” to Bush’s “crusade” against terrorism, professional politicians have often invoked the Middle Ages to justify their actions. But they are far from alone, for many of their constituents have also deployed medievalism for political purposes, as in condemning impoverished countries for “failing to escape” the Middle Ages.
The Material Collective is grateful to Mary Rambaran-Olm for her recent actions to draw attention to the continuing problems within the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists and in the field of medieval studies as a whole. This is not simply a fight over a name, but an effort to unravel decades of systematic exclusion within the […]