E(race)ing the Future: Imagined Medieval Reproductive Possibilities and the Monstrosity of Power
This chapter performs an intersectional reading of The Man of Law’s Tale and The King of Tars to explore how these late medieval romances construct normative power structures and argues that reproductive futurity (as imagined in these two stories) creates the crossroads that brings together monstrosity, race, and disability through their erasure. Focusing on identity elimination makes the case for attending to structures of power and oppression that create constructions of otherness in these narratives. Focusing on identity construction, and how difference is catalogued, carries the danger of reifying the worldview of these medieval narratives in our own scholarship. The two medieval narratives in this chapter are extremely invested in setting norms through their imagined reproductive futures, as they are entirely centered around the question of bodily legibility—each text defines, and thus preserves, legible bodies while eliminating illegible bodies. Considering the norm, rather than difference, as monstrous inverts the reification of race and disability presented by the texts, illustrates the structures of power that give us the imagined futures in question, and also demonstrates how they are enacted through the bodies of women.