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IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 1136: Rhetoric of Exclusion: Medieval and Modern

Wednesday 8 July 2020, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:April Harper, Department of History, State University of New York, Oneonta
Paper 1136-aSaracens, Lombards, and Traitors: Boundaries of the Enemy Body in the Auchinleck Guy of Warwick
(Language: English)
Caitlin Watt, Department of English & Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Social History
Paper 1136-bDefining Self and Others: Social Boundaries between Late Antiquity Narrators and Media Nowadays
(Language: English)
Carlo Arrighi, Studi storici Geografici Antropologici Università Ca' Foscari Venezia / Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche Geografiche e dell'Antichita' (DiSSGeA) Università degli Studi di Padova
Index terms: Anthropology, Folk Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Social History
Paper 1136-cMedieval Theology on the Modern Border: Romans 13 in Anti-Immigration Rhetoric
(Language: English)
Eliza Buhrer, Medieval Studies Program, Cornell University
Index terms: Medievalism and Antiquarianism, Political Thought, Theology

Paper -a:
Scholars frequently emphasize the significance of Saracens and Greeks in understanding English national identity formation in the 14th-century Auchinleck Manuscript. Lombards, however, have attracted less attention. Mercantile rivals disdained as venal and deceptive in Gower and Chaucer, Lombards in the Auchinleck's Guy of Warwick represent a threat to the Holy Roman Empire in the same way as Saracens and traitors threaten the Greeks. This paper traces the construction of Lombards as a Saracen-like enemy, arguing that Guy of Warwick ultimately contains both threats through dismemberment, decapitation, and bodily penetration, a fitting punishment for traitors and a metaphorical means of exorcising their menace to the divided body of the Christian empire.

Paper -b:
Nowadays, more and more references are made to the so-called new barbarians, especially by comparing the current migration processes with the 4th to 5th-century barbarian invasions. This happens because a well-defined idea of barbarians as social disturber, if not the cause of the decline of an advanced civilization, it is widespread. This paper aims firstly to compare prejudices and stereotypes on barbarians as conceived by Late Antiquity-High Medieval sources with similar semantic terms used by nowadays media; secondly to show if it is possible to sustain that, in these cases, time-boundary has been shattered by how humans perceive social diversity.

Paper -c:
In 2018, Jeffrey Sessions argued that separating migrant children from their parents at the US border was supported by scripture, specifically Romans 13. While using scripture to justify such an inhumane policy baffled many, Romans 13 has been central to evangelicals' understanding of government since the 1960s, when Billy Graham quoted it to condemn racist violence over integration, and the American Civil Rights Movement. Often overlooked however, is that Romans 13 first entered western political discourse during the Early Middle Ages, when it was used to bolster arguments for divine-right kingship. In this talk, I describe how Romans 13 was used in medieval political theology, and then argue that as conservatives have used Romans 13 to justify ethnic-nationalist opposition to immigration, they have embraced rather than concealed this historical baggage. This may reflect skepticism about liberal ideals, as well as a tendency to romanticize the medieval past.