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GHIL Lecture

Amy S. Kaufman

Medievalism, Extremism, and “White History”

Summer Lecture Series

25 May 2021

(0:37 h)



GHIL Lecture

Amy S. Kaufman

Medievalism, Extremism, and “White History”

The attack on the US Capitol in January 2021 showed right-wing extremists sporting a chaotic and cross-temporal panoply of symbols : from Spartan helmets and Confederate flags to Templar patches, Norse runes, an Indigenous headdress, and video game logos. This talk will explain how extremists weave symbols from particular historical moments, and from renditions of those moments in popular culture, into an alternate historical narrative that can most accurately be called ‘White History’ – a mythical understanding of the past that elevates whiteness, colonialism, and masculinity. Moreover, this talk will explore the way mainstream cultural forces such as textbooks, media, and political speech reinforce these narratives even though they contradict real, recorded history.

Amy S. Kaufman is a medievalist working as a full-time writer and speaker on medieval literature, popular culture, and the relevance of the Middle Ages to contemporary politics. Most recently she co-authored the book The Devil’s Historians: How Modern Extremists Abuse the Medieval Past (2020).