This website is a collaborative project by the Spring 2022 students of Dr. Samantha Seal's ENGL 693: Race in the Medieval World course at the University of New Hampshire.
The Middle Ages is an ideal space within which to interrogate the supposed “truth” of unchanging, transhistorical race. Ideas of race in the medieval past do not run in a linear path in the early modern or modern pasts; on the contrary, we see medieval men and women attempting to situate their claims to racial superiority in a variety of places, including Christianity, noble birth, natural humors, or regional origin.
We have studied race this semester from the perspective that "race" is what happens when social and historically-specific theories are created to explain human difference, and to mark that difference upon the human body.
On this website, students have been asked to engage with medieval works of art that highlight these complexities of race in uinque ways, highlighting both context for these creations and the way in which they surprise a modern viewer. The students have "close read" the artworks and thought about how the art depicts similar racial themes and racial contradictions to what we have seen in literary and historical texts throughout the semester.
Each page on this website therefore stands by itself, but is also part of a larger whole, representing our class's collective and collaborative delving into the "truth" of race this semester.