There’s a new scandal brewing in academia—a battle that will rock our world and keep us awake at night: a tsunami of incredible proportions as staggering as climate change, the melting of the polar caps and the drowning of polar bears. And it’s happening now in the world of Medieval Scholarship.
Medievalists, you say? What do they have to do with the real world? Aren’t those the slobs that waddle around in old armour and smack each other with swords? Well, yes and no.
Medievalists are themselves an old, staid bunch who study the distant cultures, literatures and arts of the past. But they DO have something to do with the Here and Now. You see, we are seeing a resurgence in the interest in the Medieval past in shows like Game of Thrones and what-not. Nowadays, we fantasize about ourselves as if we were riding Dragons and doing hot sex with Knights and Ladies. And this is because Medieval Times are so central to the Western imagination—to our understanding of the foundations of empire.
And Medievalism has, too, now become the baptismal font and wet dream of the Alt-Right, the Nazis, the KKK—in short the goon squad with their firewall of reactionism and their great belief that within the Medieval there is something venerable about the great Civilizing Mission of the Western Mind. Believe it or not: There is a huge market for Medieval Fantasy Video Games, the kind of games that dissatisfied basement children play. The Medieval—for this rowdy upstart crowd—lends legitimacy to the noose.
And thus enters the Drama.
You see, among Medieval Scholars, there has emerged a raging debate—a debate about how to approach the Medieval period now that it has been high-jacked by the Alt-Right. There are those in one camp—the stodgy traditional one—that take a conservative tact: “Nothing to see here. Carry on.”
And then there is a sizeable contingent who say that to not do anything about the use of the Medieval—to not even address the Medieval—is tantamount to supporting the rise of White Supremacy. A White Supremacy that fuels its bazooka with the dragon’s breath of the mystical Age-Old Medieval Misconceptions about a past that they rewrite.
The debate has become acrimonious. And as it turns out, everybody has taken up a sword. There has even arisen among the old guard a Medievalist who imagines herself as a version of Ann Coulter—a Medievalist who unapologetically champions provocateurs like Milo Yiannapoulos, the bleach-blond spokes-puppet of the Alt-Right movement. And there are a contingent who are right in line with the basement children of this world.
It has gotten so acrimonious that it’s almost like the mosh pit of the Jerry Springer show. “Learn your fucking history,” the self-proclaimed Ann Coulter of Medievalism just wrote to an upstart Medievalist who asked the simple question: What exactly does it mean to write about the Medieval period without addressing the ways the Medieval period is used to unhinge our society.
So, in any case, this is a long way of saying something simple: I’m grabbing my popcorn. I’m watching the Jerry Springer show unfold in the ivory tower. If you are pining away for Last Season’s Game of Thrones, you can make up for it with this red hot flatulent mess. It’s tacky and lovely and, yes, it will give us an insight into the way that White Supremacy is happening in academia. But for those perceptive students of Tacky, I guarantee you an eye-opener: It will also reveal how academia is entirely relevant to the resurgence of the Alt-Right in this mortal coil we call our slice of Earth.