Medieval Studies Webinar | Wan-Chuan Kao’s White before Whiteness in the Late Middle Ages

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@ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Zoom Webinar: Wan-Chuan Kao’s White before Whiteness in the Late Middle Ages

Thursday, January 25, 2024, 4:00–5:30 pm CST (5:00–6:30pm EST, 2:00–3:30pm PST)
Register at by January 24, 2024. (Participants will receive limited-time e-access to the Introduction and a discount code towards the purchase of the book).

Please join us for the book launch of Wan-Chuan Kao’s White before Whiteness in the Late Middle Ages (Manchester University Press, 2024).

What difference does temporality make in the recognition politics of whiteness? If whiteness has hardened into a modern identity politics defined by skin tone, it has not always been so. Resisting a reflexive, biopolitical understanding of whiteness, White before Whiteness interrogates how whiteness as a representational trope produces and delimits a range of medieval ideological regimes: love, aesthetics, subjectivity, salvation, chivalry, labour, materiality and sociality. The book analyses works such as Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, Pearl, The King of Tars and others, rethinking premodern whiteness as operations of fragility, precarity and racialicity across bodily and non-bodily figurations. Deploying diverse methodologies, this ground-breaking book offers a series of provocative diagnoses and original readings that reconceive whiteness as a systemic edge, generating operative differences that are never transparent, stable or permanent.

Nancy Coleman (Washington and Lee University)
Lisa H. Cooper (University of Wisconsin–Madison)
Sarah Friedman (University of Wisconsin–Madison)
Carissa Harris (Temple University)
Mike Hill (University at Albany, SUNY)
Elliot Kendall (University of Exeter)
Mariah Min (Brown University)
Susie Phillips (Northwestern University)

Sponsored by Washington and Lee University Library and The Medieval Studies Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison.