In recent years the general disregard of our field toward medievalisms outside Europe and the Anglophone world has changed noticeably. Volumes such as the 2009 Medievalisms in the Postcolonial World, which Kathleen Davis and I co-edited, as well as Michelle Warren's 2011 Creole Medievalism, have been fully dedicated to the topic. Others have had at least a section on medievalism outside Europe, such as the papers devoted to “countries without a Middle Ages” in Revista de poética medieval's special 2008 issue on medievalisms, which was edited by César Domínguez, and the project Le Moyen Âge vu d'ailleurs, which included four international conferences, several interim publications, and a recent volume by the same name, edited by Eliana Magnani in 2010. These last examples are of particular interest to my current concerns because they include position essays about the meaning and scope of Ibero-American medievalism and were written by local medievalists. The ideas of medievalists regarding the meaning of the Middle Ages in their local context, and especially the persistence of “the medieval” in post-independence nineteenth-century Brazil, will be the main topics of this essay. My discussion of the medieval in nineteenth-century Brazil will note similarities between, on the one hand, current academic medievalism as it appears in the recent critical literature and, on the other hand, the main text I will discuss, Euclides da Cunha's Os Sertões (Rebellion in the Backlands), Brazil's national- foundational text. I will conclude by submitting that Brazilian medievalisms can point to a more spacious and ethically alert meaning for our field, urging the contemporary medievalism collective to a desirable expansion out of our current comfort zones.
Postcolonial Medievalism and Marginality
Not surprisingly, Ibero-American essays like those published in the Revista de poética medieval and Le Moyen Âge vu d'ailleurs take medieval studies as a field established in the metropolitan centers of the European world.