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24 August, 2015

Don't Be Snobs, Medievalists

My Kalamazoo plenary was too long for inclusion in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and it was written for a listening audience. However, this concise section focuses on one of my prime concerns, the need for more public humanities and medievalism. I am sure some colleagues will find the headline a little over the top, but it makes it easier to address some questions I hope to elaborate on in the future:

Don't be Snobs, Medievalists
We medievalists have had a pretty good run in academe. We were admitted in the final third of the 19th century after we proved that our subject was complex (read: science-like) enough to warrant professionalized study. European nations’ desire for origins, to use the title phrase in Allen J. Frantzen’s influential book, helped expand the field into the second half of the 20th century. Even in America, although her very existence was predicated on leaving "old" Europe behind, academic work on various medieval heritages thrived to the point where every humanities department boasted at least one medieval specialist.
However, there is now a manifest discrepancy between the large number of students who request that we address their love of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and medieval-themed video and computer games on the one hand, and the decreasing number of medievalists hired to replace retiring colleagues on the other. READ THE FULL TEXT HERE