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Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World

, 456 pages

4 b&w illus.

December 2009



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Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World

The Idea of "the Middle Ages" Outside Europe

This fascinating study explores the intersection of postcolonial theory and medievalism. While the latter has traditionally been defined primarily in terms of European nationalism, the essays in this volume discuss medievalism in regions as wide-ranging as the United States, India, Latin America, and Africa. This innovative approach demonstrates the ways alternative conceptions of medieval and modern history can provide new insights into the idea of the Middle Ages and the origins and legacy of colonialism.

Through diverse and thought-provoking essays, the contributors demonstrate that writing the Middle Ages has been key in colonial and postcolonial struggles over racial, ethnic, and territorial identity. They also argue that colonial medievalisms are crucial to understanding the history of entrenched temporal and political partitions, such as medieval/modern and East/West.

The essays are divided into four sections that address a set of related questions raised by the literary and political intersections of medievalism and colonialism. Each section is followed by a response—two are by postcolonial theorists and two by medievalists—that carefully considers the essay's arguments and comments on its implications for the respondent’s field of study.

This volume is the first to bring medievalists and postcolonial scholars into conversation about the shared histories of their fields and the potential for mutual endeavor. Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World will both redirect scholarship in medievalism and inform approaches to temporality in postcolonial studies.

Kathleen Davis teaches medieval literature at the University of Rhode Island and is the author of Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time and Deconstruction and Translation. Nadia Altschul teaches medieval and Latin American studies at the Johns Hopkins University and is author of La literatura, el autor y la crítica textual.

"A worthy volume that will be of interest to scholars of the premodern world as well as postcolonialists. It marks a welcome move away from a Eurocentric focus, ranging into new territorial areas that will raise new and exciting questions for scholars, teachers, and graduate students."

"A stimulating read."

"I highly recommend this book to both scholars of medievalism and colonialism, as well as scholars in other fields, such as history and anthropology. The volume is smart, persuasive, engaging, and provocative, and the contributors engage in a wide range of theoretical debates."

" Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World breaks new ground in being both interesting and erudite: its topic, the interdependence between medievalism and post-colonialism, is new and interesting, and it is here investigated to the highest standards."

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