Elephants in the Room: Addressing Race and Racism in Medieval Studies and Studies of the U.S. South

deadline for submissions: 
June 16, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
SAMLA / South Atlantic Modern Language Association
contact email: 

November 15–17, 2019 | Westin Peachtree Plaza | Atlanta, Georgia

In the wake of Christchurch and Charleston, global media coverage occasionally highlighted the fact that white supremacists use the language, power, and identity of medieval Europe and the southern United States to justify racial violence. Mass shootings at Christchurch and Charleston, however, mark only two recent events that are part of a long history of racist cultural colonization, a process of racial erasure, which academic disciplines such as Southern and Medieval Studies too often reify and reinforce. In the interest of exploring the role of teachers and researchers working within those disciplines to confront these issues, Medieval and Renaissance Interdisciplinary Studies (MARIS) at Louisiana State University and the Emerging Scholars Organization (ESO) of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL) invite proposals from scholars and teachers that answer the following questions:


  • How do you ethically research within a field whose subjects and objects of study have been constructed to maintain discriminatory epistemologies of race, region, nationalism, and religion?


  • How do you ethically teach the history and memory of literary periods for which many popular audiences have embraced manufactured nostalgia that so often whitewashes public histories and memories?


  • When and where should researchers and teachers of Medieval and Southern studies address the institutionalization of race and racism in their disciplines? How does or doesn’t it serve the academy, and the broader public, to do so?


To include a broad range of perspectives, we plan a roundtable with 6-8 scholars offering 5-7 minute presentations. Please submit a 250-word abstract, brief bio, and AV requirements by June 16th, 2019, to Shari L. Arnold (sarnold10@gsu.edu), Joshua Ryan Jackson (jjackson240@gsu.edu), Gayle Fallon (lfallo1@lsu.edu), and Kelly Vines (kvines42@gmail.com).


Correction: An earlier version of this CFP understated the long history of racial violence that recent events in Christchurch and Charleston belie. On June 16th, 2019, this version was corrected to better reflect that history, as well as include another organizer, who pointed out the need for this correction and will be helping lead the discussion in Atlanta.