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Wan-Chuan Kao Hosts Virtual Book Launch Event ‘White before whiteness in the late Middle Ages’ will launch via Zoom on Jan. 25 from 5-6:30 p.m.

Kao-Portrait-scaled-563x533 Wan-Chuan Kao Hosts Virtual Book Launch EventWan-Chuan Kao, associate professor of English

Wan-Chuan Kao, associate professor of English and head of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program at Washington and Lee University, will host a virtual event to launch his new book, “White before whiteness in the late Middle Ages.”

The launch will be held via Zoom from 5-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, and will feature several speakers, including Nancy Coleman ’18 (English and poverty studies), Lisa H. Cooper, Sarah Friedman, Carissa Harris, Mike Hill, Elliot Kendall, Mariah Min and Susie Phillips. Those interested in participating are encouraged to register by Wednesday, Jan. 24, at whiteb4whiteness@gmail.com. Participants will receive limited-time e-access to the introduction and a discount code.

Kao’s book, published this month by the Manchester University Press, is supported by a prestigious Book Subvention Award from the Medieval Academy of America, as well as a generous subvention from W&L’s Office of the Provost.

Marion Turner, J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language at the University of Oxford, praises Kao’s monograph as “an innovative and timely book that makes a genuinely thought-provoking intervention in both medieval studies and the study of the long history of race and racism.”

Grounded in medieval literary and intellectual traditions and contemporary theory, the book encourages the reader to reconsider the theory of premodern whiteness. If whiteness has hardened into a modern identity of politics defined by skin tone, it has not always been so, as Kao contends.

“White before whiteness” is Kao’s first monograph. He previously co-edited, with Jen Boyle, professor of English and new media at Coastal Carolina University, a collection of scholarly essays titled “The Retro-Futurism of Cuteness” in 2017.

Kao has been a member of the W&L faculty since 2013. His research and teaching interests include late medieval British literature, whiteness studies, critical race studies, gender and sexuality, queer studies and critical theory. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Hunter College and a Master of Philosophy and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York.

Kao’s book launch webinar is co-sponsored by the Washington and Lee University Library and The Medieval Studies Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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