Medieval Literature and Postcolonial Studies (Postcolonial by Lisa Lampert-Weissig

By Lisa Lampert-Weissig

During this wide creation to a wealthy new quarter of study, Lisa Lamper-Weissig examines the old connections among postcolonial and medieval stories, accomplishing new readings of key medieval texts from assorted ecu traditions. those comprise Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, Bernard Mandeville's Travels, and Guillaume de Palerne, a French romance poem approximately werewolves set in Norman Sicily. Lampert additionally contains insights from later fiction set within the medieval interval, akin to Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and modern works by way of Salman Rushdie, Tariq Ali, Juan Goytisolo, and Amitav Ghosh. those interesting comparisons attach postcolonial medievalisms to present matters, together with the problem of race within the 2008 presidential elections, the thesis at the back of Samuel Huntington's conflict of Civilisations, and the way forward for Islam in Europe. This quantity includes a useful timeline, reproductions of medieval maps, and a bibliography with additional readings.

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In places such as medieval Iberia or Norman Sicily, where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed, we find the development of complex hybrid cultures that do not fit into the mechanisms of Orientalist discourse as Said sets them forth. As Maria Georgopoulou points out, medieval Crusader states are another location of hybrid cultures that call the Orientalist model into question. Using an art-historical approach, Georgopoulou focuses on two glass beakers, which while apparently made by Muslim artisans, portray Christian images.

Building on her influential earlier work, Davis shows how the typical periodisation scheme, which figures a ‘religious, “pre-political”’ Middle Ages as transcended by the developments of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, was part of an apparatus developed alongside political theory that justified both slavery and imperialist subjugation. Beginning in the sixteenth century, jurists used medieval documents and the concept of the ‘feudal’ itself in order to create a vision of feudalism within Europe that was distinct from the ‘modern’ slavery being practised in European colonial possessions.

He invites us to see this work as a taking-up of Kathleen Biddick’s invitation to medievalists to engage with postcolonial theory, and, in turn, he issues his own invitation to those working on colonialism and imperialism in later periods to deepen their historical knowledge (Tolan 2002: 280–1; Biddick 2000a: 36, 46). Literary scholar Suzanne Conklin Akbari is even more explicit in her engagement with postcolonial theory in her studies of medieval Christian representations of Muslims and Islam.

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