Dr. Josh Davies of King’s College London will give a presentation titled “The Middle Ages as Property: Nationalism, Race and Medieval Studies in Europe and the U.S.” on Monday, February 26, at 4 p.m. in Tribble Hall’s DeTamble Auditorium.
This lecture is sponsored by the Wake Forest University Medieval and Early Modern Studies program.
Dr. Davies’ presentation will explore some of the ways in which medieval studies is bound up in ideas about nationhood and race. Drawing on Cheryl Harris’ 1993 essay “Whiteness as Property” (view on JSTOR), the presentation examines how four scholars of the early Middle Ages—Grímur Jónsson Thorkelin, N.F.S. Grundtvig, J.M. Kemble, and Thomas Jefferson—imagined medieval culture not only to be the property of particular social groups but also to reveal important qualities of those groups. Reading their work alongside the Old English poem Beowulf, Davies argues that the critics’ labours reveal the precariousness of modern racial and national identities even as they attempt to secure them.
Josh Davies is a medievalist who specializes in Old English literature, visual and material culture, and medievalism. His research interests include the intersections between history, poetry and visual culture in the early medieval period; perceptions of the environment in medieval Britain; post-medieval reception of medieval culture; and museology and ways of knowing the medieval past. His current research focuses on cultural memory in and of medieval Britain, and recent projects have included a study of Gothic architecture in North America and an essay on environment, gender, and community in the Life of St Mildrith. For more details, please see his full research profile.