by Marissa Greenberg

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Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

Teaching premodern literatures inclusively and equitably is more necessary — and more difficult — now than it was even a year ago. In response to COVID-19 and the recession, faculty overhauled their classes for remote instruction and took on additional carework to support their most vulnerable students. Despite these added demands on our time and energy, Ambereen Dadabhoy and Nedda Mehdizadeh are absolutely right that we, as educators, remain responsible for schooling ourselves so we may cultivate anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist, and anti-homophobic pedagogies. …


by Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh

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Photo by Theme Photos on Unsplash

On November 14, 1896, days before Thanksgiving, Boston Print reported an odd sight in the streets of Boston — “[a] horseman…clad in glittering armor,” is “prancing…through the streets…The Crusader’s cross gleams on the coat of mail and adorns the silken standard that he bears aloft. It is, in truth, King Arthur come to earth again.” King Arthur, poised in action, his horse galloping across the page, had come to Boston to tell the citizens and countrymen about nothing other than domestic bliss: flour, King Arthur’s Flour.


by Dyani Johns Taff

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Photo by Esther Gorlee on Unsplash

Hester Pulter and I don’t share many biographical details. She was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1605 and lived in Hertfordshire, England. She was preoccupied with Protestant faith and resurrection and was a staunch Royalist, writing with eloquent rage about the beheading of Charles I in 1649. I was born in Vermont in 1985 and didn’t read the Bible until college when I realized how many of the poems and plays and novels I liked grew from or aimed to upend Christian theologies. …


by Devori Kimbro

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Photo by iMattSmart on Unsplash

A cursory glance at any social media platform now yields a dire epistemological battle. “Keyboard warriors,” as they’ve been dubbed by the president, flood the internet to alternatively declaim and tout various cures, treatments, and preventative tactics to counter the COVID-19 crisis now in its ninth month. While many accept traditional medical knowledge including wearing masks and washing hands to carefully cultivated twenty-second tunes, much of the world has drastically changed its behavior to attempt to stem the tide of the virus.

While masks and social distancing are demonstrably effective, some occupy a space of incredulity. Dr. Anthony Fauci becomes a “deep-state” operative. The virus could be prevented with hydroxychloroquine. COVID-19 is transmitted via 5G wireless networks. While a quick internet search debunks these assertions, the commentary is so pervasive that one cannot help but encounter someone who starts a conversation with “I read on the internet…” before exploring the latest COVID-19 conspiracy theory. …


by Nahir Otaño Gracia

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Photo courtesy of Arizona State University

Medieval studies, and academia in general, continues to be a predominantly white space. Many are nervous that they will get it wrong. We are in a moment where Covid-19 continues to disproportionately hurt black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); police brutality continues to harm blacks at a disproportionate rate while many people, especially whites, excuse police violence; and ICE continues to abuse migrants. The reality is that we need to take an active role to stop racism within our own communities. Medieval studies has brilliant scholars working on Critical Race Studies and the Middle Ages. As a field, we need to learn from their work and apply it to our teaching. …


by Marissa Joseph

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Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

Shakespeare has a complicated relationship with black America. Many black intellectuals reject or reluctantly engage with his work, widely deeming Shakespeare a symbol for Eurocentricity in the American education system. Despite this, as Patricia A. Cahill and Kim F. Hall argue, the black American community’s greatest writers “have found a source of joy, inspiration and innovation even as they resist his use as an agent of dominion.” In an attempt to express and confront the abandoned narratives and identities within Shakespeare’s Othello, Toni Morrison responded with a play set in its aftermath: Desdemona.

Throughout Desdemona, Morrison constructs a magical realist model for self-liberation by removing the previously established natural social order. In exchange, she offers Shakespeare’s characters a supernatural world where they are granted dialogue, agency, and a chance to reclaim their narratives by harnessing their magic. Desdemona legitimizes the mystical as a means for deconstructing barriers to empowerment and thus, reimagines a space for self-definition that is defined by a fantastical nature that black women both real and literary emulate to encounter their personal magic. …


by Sara M. Butler

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TNA C 144/8/10. A criminal inquisition. Photograph by Sara Butler. Image courtesy of The National Archives (Kew, Surrey).

An inquest held on June 18, 1293 at Carlisle (Cumbria) involving the county’s sheriff and coroners as well as a jury of local elites, witnessed the careful examination of the allegations levied against Alexander son of John de Capella of Penrith, indicted for the murder of William son of Patrick. The defendant alleged that the indictment was false. He admitted that yes, he did slay William, but not feloniously; not out of malice, or premeditation, but accidentally. Thus, the homicide was not criminal, but excusable, and deserving of a king’s pardon. …


by Elizabeth Coggeshall

How Many “Bad Apples”? Abolish the Police sign held by Minneapolis protester after the death of George Floyd.
How Many “Bad Apples”? Abolish the Police sign held by Minneapolis protester after the death of George Floyd.
Photograph by Lorie Shaull

In recent speeches on police violence and reform, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have sought to distinguish “bad apples” in police departments from the “good, decent people” whom both Biden and Trump have separately praised. The “bad apple” argument has once again come to the fore of public discourse since officer Derek Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has been reignited following recent incidents in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by officer Rusten Sheskey less than three months later.

This question is one of many that Americans are actively debating in the wake of the violence of summer 2020 and the protests that have followed: were the officers who shot George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and countless other black Americans “bad apples,” or were their actions the product of decades of policies in local policing that have led to staggeringly disproportionate displays of deadly force against BIPOC individuals, as opposed to their white fellow citizens? Where can we find justice in these cases? Is it enough to punish the individual (bad) actor, or do we need to uproot the intractable, even structural, systems of racial bias that plague our criminal justice system? …


by Jonathan Burton with Yasmin Mendoza

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Photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

Although Whittier College is a double MSI (Minority-Serving Institution) with over 50% Latinx students and 70% students of color overall, the first impulse of the students in our class was not to explore issues of race or citizenship in our adaptation of Act 1, Scene 2 of The Merchant of Venice.


by Ambereen Dadabhoy

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Claremont, California | Wikimedia Commons

Harvey Mudd College (HMC) has a long history of Shakespearean performance, despite the fact that it is primarily known for being a liberal arts college with a focus on STEM. Performing Shakespeare at HMC allows our students to step outside of their usual technical area of study and step into the difficult moral and ethical quandaries depicted in his plays, to take up positions of power and domination, and to be made vulnerable by the oppressive forces of culture and society. For our Fall 2018 contribution to “The Qualities of Mercy Project,” and through our full production of The Merchant of Venice, my students eagerly embraced the opportunity to meaningfully highlight the problematic elements of this so-called “problem play.” …

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ACMRS Arizona

ACMRS is a research center housed at Arizona State University. We support inclusive, accessible, and forward-looking scholarship in premodern studies.

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