Benign medievalisms: The Juggling the Middle Ages exhibit at Dumbarton Oaks

Updated: Dec 22, 2018


North American lovers of medieval culture had a rude awakening in August 2017, when they realized how “Unite the Right” demonstrators linked their nationalist, neo-Confederate, racist, violent, and masculinist goals to certain assumptions about the Middle Ages during the riots surrounding the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. European lovers of the Middle Ages suffered a similar shock in 2011, when Anders Breivik appropriated imagined aspects of medieval culture for his murderous vision of a future society.

These kinds of medievalism are troublingly “persistent” (Angela Jane Weisl), dangerously “banal” (Andrew B.R. Elliot), and omnipresent in a manner that makes it almost impossible to perceive different notions of the Middle Ages, those not deliberately employed in the service of a radical and racist ideology.


Therefore, it comes as a relief to enter into the halls of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, DC, situated in the midst of a peaceful Georgetown neighborhood, and experience the modern reception of a medieval narrative that is quite different from the ones we tend to hear about on a daily basis. READ MY FULL REVIEW at MEDIEVALISTS.NET


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