Cord J. Whitaker: 14 October 2014

4:00 p.m.
2080 West Mall, Jack Bell building, room 028

“B(l)ack Home in the Medieval Garden: Time, Space, and Race in Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Medievalism”

Of interest to students and scholars working in Medieval Studies, African American Studies, ecotheory, comparative literature, postcolonial studies, and literary history, criticism and theory more broadly.


Jessie Redmon Fauset was the most published woman novelist of the Harlem Renaissance, literary editor of the NAACP’s Crisis, and the editor who discovered Langston Hughes. She was also profoundly interested in the Middle Ages. In this talk, I examine her use of the garden imagery that permeates medieval romance in the short story “My House and a Glimpse of My Life Therein.” Nestling her literary house between a modern cityscape and a verdant medieval forest, Fauset explores what is to be black in twentieth-century America and a student of the ostensibly white Middle Ages. Going beyond the enchanted forest to a medieval garden loaded with literary resonance, Fauset invites her reader to consider whether the Middle Ages are really all that white after all. In “B(l)ack Home,” I consider how Fauset uses the ecology of the garden to turn popular interest in the Middle Ages to her own early twentieth-century racial and political ends.


Dr. Cord J. Whitaker is Assistant Professor of English at Wellesley College and has also served as Chase Faculty Scholar Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire. Whitaker’s scholarship and teaching focus on the development of racial ideology in the religious and literary cultures of late medieval England and Europe, and he is currently completing a book on the subject entitled Black Metaphors: Race, Religion, and Rhetoric in the Literature of Late Medieval England. Whitaker has long been fascinated with the literary and cultural history of medieval gardens.

Co-sponsored by UBC English Department and The Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice.

Information above from the GRSSJ website.

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