Features Podcast

Medieval Race and the Image of the “Saracens”

Today, we tend to associate race with skin colour. But, what did “Race” mean in the Medieval era? That’s what we’re finding with today’s guest, Tirumular (Drew) Narayanan. Drew Narayanan is a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He talks to Lucie Laumonier about race in the Middle Ages and the figure of the “Saracens” in French manuscripts.

To learn more about Drew Narayanan’s work, check out his piece Frazetta’s “Death Dealer” and the Question of White Nationalist Iconography at Fort Hood at the University of Notre Dame’s Medieval Studies Research Blog, and his translation on the Global Medieval Sourcebook – How Sir John of Acre, butler of France, who was on guard, was deceived by some Saracens who requested baptism.


Drew recommends these two books:

The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, by Geraldine Heng

Saracens, Demons and Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art, by Debra Higgs Strickland

You can follow Drew on Twitter on @Dru_NaRyan

The Medieval Grad Podcast is a new podcast here at Look for two episodes to be released each month – if you are part of our Patreon you can listen to these episodes early!

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Lucie Laumonier is an affiliate assistant professor at Concordia University. Click here to view her page or follow her on Instagram at The French Medievalist. She is also a columnist on, writing about agriculture and rural life in the Middle Ages.

If you are interested in being a guest of the podcast, you can email Lucie at [email protected].

The music in this podcast is La douce jouvencelle

Top Image: Knight vs ‘Saracen’ in British Library MS Royal 2 B VII f. 150r