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Race before Race: Articulating Difference in Medieval England

Subject code


Course Number




S. Federico

Course Long Title

Race before Race: Articulating Difference in Medieval England


The medieval period is often wrongly perceived as a time that existed before the idea of race: before the Atlantic slave trade and before European colonialism, the Middle Ages might seem to be free of racial bias, and free of difference itself. Such fantasies of a preracial or hegemonic past also have given rise to white supremacist ideologies of racialized nationalism, including the mythic construction of "Anglo-Saxon" heritage. This course addresses these errors by examining how racial categories of human difference were articulated in specific cultural contexts between 1150 and 1415, arguably inventing many of the dehumanizing tropes of racial discourse that persist today.

Modes of Inquiry

Analysis and Critique [AC]

Writing Credit

No writing credit

Departmental Course Attributes - Major/Minor Requirements

(English: Medieval), (English: Pre-1800), (English: R, E, DL)

Offering Frequency

Normally offered every year