Department of the Classics and the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies, Harvard: Premodern Race Seminar, Session 1


Monday, September 12, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Room 133, Barker Center, 12 Quincy St, Cambridge MA, 02138

Harvard Premodern Race Seminar

Session 1: Introductions; What Is PRS?; Plans for the year.




The organizers invite everyone to participate in Harvard’s Premodern Race Seminar, a combination speaker series and discussion group, now entering its third year, for those interested broadly in the topic of race in the premodern past. This fall, the seminar will meet biweekly for an hour on Mondays at 12:00 pm in Barker Center 133 (the Plimpton Room), most often to discuss precirculated readings. PRS is jointly organized by faculty in the Department of the Classics and the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies: this year, Sean Gilsdorf, Rachel Love, Dan Smail, Nicholas Watson, Naomi Weiss, and Anna Wilson. This is a discussion seminar where the faculty share interest in how race operates in the premodern world and in our disciplines, but none of us is a specialist in the subject; we welcome anyone who is interested in becoming familiar with some of the most recent scholarship in this vibrant area of research. Our goal in running the seminar is to create a space where graduate students, post-docs, and faculty can learn together in mutually respectful and fruitful conversation. A draft schedule for the semester is at the end of this message. You are welcome to attend single sessions, but we hope for a core group who attend regularly, to foster open and rich discussion. If you are interested in regular attendance, please email us at


For a more detailed description of PRS and its goals, please visit the Canvas site:


PRS Schedule, Fall 2022 (some details still to be finalized):


Session 1 (Monday, September 12): Introductions; What Is PRS?; Plans for the year.


Session 2 (Monday, September 26): Reading: Dan-el Padilla Peralta, “Anti-Race” in A Cultural History of Race, Vol. 1, ed. Denise McCoskey (Bloomsbury 2021).


Session 3 (Monday, October 17): Reading: selections from Sarah Derbew, Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (Cambridge 2022).


Session 4 (Monday, October 24): Reading: draft of article in progress by Anna Wilson, “Racial Innocence: Whiteness and Childhood in Chaucer’s “Prioress’ Tale””.


Session 5 (Monday, November 7): Reading: TBD, on topic of slavery in the ancient/medieval Mediterranean OR pedagogy session, “Teaching Difficult Issues With Cases,” with Dan Smail.


Session 6 (Monday, November 21: Reading: Shokoofeh Rajabzadeh, “The Depoliticized Saracen and Muslim Erasure,” Literature Compass (2019).