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The State of Medieval Studies — a series

13 October, 2019

This is this first in a series of blog posts over two years in the making. I am hoping to address many of the issues currently being discussed, however ineffectively, amongst scholars of medieval studies. I’ve been mulling over many of these thoughts since the 2017 Leeds IMC, and I still have trouble articulating them the way I would like. That said, some of the things I want to address in this series include:

  • the responsibility of academics, especially for academic medievalists, to engage in public political activism
  • the complexities of the term “Medieval Studies”
  • the role of regional hegemony and privilege in framing conversations about race and gender within the field writ large
  • The conflation of anti-racist goals aimed at making the human face of the field less white with the ideas of decolonization and globalization of medieval studies
  • The ways that social media, especially Twitter and Fb, both democratize and create a false illusion of democratization that are potentially bad for ECRs and senior academics alike
  • being a medievalist in the age of Trump
  • the rhetoric of social justice and its inadequacies when it comes to dealing with individuals within a relatively small community.
  • the distraction of loud voices and how they become the issue, rather than the issue being the issue

And probably lots of other things.

I don’t like to erase or edit comments, unless they represent actual threats or are personally abusive. I won’t be moderating ahead of time, because I don’t know how much time and energy I will have for this. If I do remove a comment, I will replace it with something that explains why, providing I can figure that out. I would like this to be a place for dialog, not just the same shouting seen elsewhere. I don’t doubt that, if anybody is paying attention, there will be nasty back-channeled conversations, circulation of screenshots, and the same sort of generally repugnant and hypocritical behavior that has characterized every discussion on the topic since 2017, if not since ill-advised callouts of some of the field’s more embarrassing right-wing martyrs began sometime before that. That’s been the norm for a couple of years now, and is happening even as I type. Everybody has receipts, and no one, were their “private” social media conversations made public, should be throwing more than nerf balls from their glass houses. That said, we need to talk.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 October, 2019 2:40 am

    I, for one, would appreciate a long-form (well, longer-form), non-FB discussion of these issues. Not being in the field myself, the combination of ongoing scholarly and social media discourses in parallel/tension/collision is definitely a bit hard to pin down at times. So, thanks.

    Also, looking back at the last couple of posts here, you’ve already made a start, laid a foundation, at least.

  2. 14 October, 2019 8:17 am

    What’s depressing is that not one damned thing has changed in two years

  3. 14 October, 2019 9:25 am

    I am very interested in this and will be following. šŸ™‚

  4. Belle, formerly Scattered & Random permalink
    2 November, 2019 5:14 pm

    Will follow with great interest. Wish more thoughtful bloggers would do similar stuff!

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