Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

Il ruolo dei ‘saraceni’ nel consolidamento di un senso della nazione nell’Inghilterra del XIV secolo - Articolo invitato

Sergio Guerra


The aim of this essay is to illuminate an often ignored aspect whenever one talks about the factors contributing to the strengthening of a sense of nation in England in the period following the Norman conquest, namely the role played by the mythical figure of the ‘saracen’. This is a cultural fabrication denoting the Muslim (but bearing very little or no resemblance with the real historical one) which is present in a great variety of texts, particularly in Middle English romances. The article intends to contribute to an academic project of a ‘postcolonial’ kind which only recently got underway: to ascertain the role played by Islam and the Islamic world in European and global history, exposing what official, Eurocentric historiography (and on its trail literary criticism) had usually withheld or elided, deconstructing its truisms, unmasking myths and stereotypes, and decentring its narrative.


Saracens; Christian-Muslims relations; Englishness; Middle English romances; Medieval Orientalism

Full Text:



Aljobouri, Dhia A. H. (1972). The Medieval Idea of the Saracen as illustrated in English Literature, Spectacle and Sport. A Thesis Submitted in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Leicester (unpublished).

Anderson, Benedict (1983). Imagined Communities. Reflections of the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso (rev. ed. 2006).

Akbari, Suzanne Conklin (2009). Idols in the East. European Representations of Islam and the Orient, 110-1450. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Beckett, Katherine Scarfe (2003). Anglo-Saxon Perceptions of the Islamic World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Calkin, Siobhain Bly (2005). Saracens and the Making of English Identity: The Auchinleck Manuscript. New York: Routledge.

Elton, Geoffrey (1992). The English. Oxford: Blackwell.

Fukuyama, Francis (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. New York: The Free Press.

Gillingham, John (2000). The English in the Twelfth Century: Imperialism, National Identity, and Political Values. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press.

Heffernan, Carol F. (2003). The Orient in Chaucer and Medieval Romance. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

Heng, Geraldine (2003). Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hobsbawm, Eric (1990). Nations and Nationalism since 1780. Programme, Myth, Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed. 1992.

Kumar, Krishan (2003), The Making of English National Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pietropoli, Cecilia (2009). “Da Beowulf a Malory”. In Lilla Maria Crisafulli e Keir Elam (a cura di), Manuale di letteratura e cultura inglese, Bologna: Bononia University Press. 7-18.

Radulescu, Raluca L. (2007). “Writing Nation: Shaping Identity in Medieval Historical Narratives”. In Peter Brown (ed.), A Companion To Medieval English Literature. Oxford: Blackwell. 358-73.

Rouse, Robert Allen (2007). “An Exemplary Life. Guy of Warwick as Medieval Culture-Hero”. In Alison Wiggins and Rosalind Field (eds.), Guy of Warwick. Icon and Ancestor. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. 94-109.

Spencer, Philip and Howard Wollman (eds, 2002). Nationalism. A Critical Introduction. London: Sage.

Tolan, John (2002). Saracens. Islam in the Medieval European Imagination. New York: Columbia University Press.

Tolan, John (2012). “Saracens and Ishmaelites in Latin Ethnographic Traditions from Jerome to Bede”. In Walter Pohl, Clemens Gantner and Richard Payne (eds), Visions of Community in the Post-Roman World: The West, Byzantium and the Islamic World, 300-1100. Farnham: Ashgate. 513-30.

Turville-Petre, Thorlac (1994). “Havelok and the History of the Nation”. In Carol M. Meale (ed.), Readings in Medieval Romance. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. 121-34.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2016-002-guer

Copyright (©) 2016 Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Editor-in-Chief: Roberta Mullini
Editorial Board: Maurizio Ascari - Stefano Beretta - Antonio Bertacca- Tania Collani - Chiara Elefante - Marina Guglielmi - Maryline Heck - Richard Hillman - Reinhard Johler - Stephen Knight - Cesare Mascitelli - Sonia Massai - Aurélie Moioli - Maria de Fátima Silva - Bart Van Den Bossche 

Editorial Staff: Margaret Amatulli - Alessandra Calanchi - Riccardo Donati - Ivo Klaver  - Massimiliano Morini - Antonella Negri - Luca Renzi

Referee List

© 2001 LED Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto