Who or what is an outsider? Answering this questions greatly depends on one’s own position and perceptions. This was no different in the Middle Ages: through words and images people were made into outsiders. Artists often used a specific visual language to denote outsiders, among them Jews, Muslims, thieves, murderers, fools, women, peasants, and saints. Through dress, jewelry, facial expressions, hair, gestures, and attributes artists were able to cast the other as an outsider. During this seminar we analyze how outsiders were represented, examining how (un)familiar medieval people were with outsiders. Our point of departure is Edward’s Said’s Orientalism together with medievalists’ responses to Said’s ideas.
Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (New York, 1978), 1-110; Lieselotte Saurma-Jeltsch, “Introduction: Facets of Otherness and Affirmation of the Self,” in Images of Otherness in Medieval and Early Modern Times, eds. Lieselotte E. Saurma-Jeltsch and Anja Eisenbeiß (München, 2012), 9-12; Jean-Claude Schmitt, “Die Geschichte der Außenseiter,” in Die Rückeroberung des historischen Denkens. Grundlagen der neuen Geschichtswissenschaft, ed. Jacques Le Goff (Frankfurt, 1990), 201-243; Avinoam Shalem, “Dangerous Claims: On the ‘Othering’ of Islamic Art History and How It Operates Within Global Art History,” Kritische Berichte 2 (2012): 69-86.