Medieval and Modern Racial Aesthetics (Roundtable) ICMS, Kalamazoo, May 7-10 2020

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Isabella Weiss / Program in Medieval Studies, Rutgers University

International Contress on Medieval Studies Kalamazoo 2020

In response to the recent emergence of race and racism as prominent fields of inquiry in medieval studies, David Nirenberg has cautioned that efforts to track the history of racism are prone to replicate the teleological logic of racism itself. In response to Nirenberg’s warning, this roundtable seeks an interdisciplinary conversation about the relationship between aesthetics and racist ideologies in medieval thought, as well as the reconstruction of the logic of medieval racism in modern and contemporary scholarship. Medieval physiognomic theory describes the body as a visual manifestation of the nature and quality of the soul. In the later middle ages, humoral, physiognomic, and environmental deterministic theories about the origins of bodily difference were integrated with an aesthetic elevation of the body of Christ. Modern methods of interpretation follow a similar logic by treating art and literature as a manifestation of the ideas and inner character of its creator and his/her society. This panel welcomes papers on the relationship between medieval conceptions of beauty, ideal form, and racism as well as papers on the reconstruction of the logic of racism in modern aesthetic theory and methods of interpretation as they are applied to the study of medieval intellectual history, art, and literature. 

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words (along with this participant information form: by 15 September to Isabella Weiss (