by Lynn T. Ramey
“A provocative study of western racial attitudes.”—Hamilton Cravens, coeditor of Race and Science
“Shows that behind myths of knights in shining armor and fair maidens lies a contested literary and cultural history of medievalism that troubles understandings of race from the nineteenth century to today.”—Russ Castronovo, author of Beautiful Democracy
Black Legacies argues that attitudes and practices from medieval European societies—including the coding of black as “evil” and white as “good”—were foundational in the development of the western concept of race. Lynn Ramey shows how mapmakers and travel writers of the colonial era used medieval lore of “monstrous peoples” to question the humanity of indigenous New World populations and how medieval arguments about humanness were used to justify the slave trade. She also looks at how race is portrayed in films set in medieval Europe, revealing an enduring fascination with the Middle Ages as a way to process and cope with racial conflict in the West today.