Session Title

The Dragon(s) in the Room: Addressing the Modern Problems of Medieval Studies (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Lone Medievalist

Organizer Name

John P. Sexton

Organizer Affiliation

Bridgewater State Univ.

Presider Name

John P. Sexton

Paper Title 1

The Moral Obligation of Lone Medievalists

Presenter 1 Name

Kisha G. Tracy

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Fitchburg State Univ.

Paper Title 2

Neurodiversity and Medieval Literature in the Classroom

Presenter 2 Name

Jes Battis

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Regina

Paper Title 3

Connecting the Middle Ages and Contemporary Popular Culture

Presenter 3 Name

Mathilde Pointière

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Louisiana State Univ.

Paper Title 4

Medieval Studies and the Internet

Presenter 4 Name

Samantha Knepper

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Paper Title 5

Disability Studies, the Medieval Text, and the Modern Classroom

Presenter 5 Name

Richard H. Godden

Presenter 5 Affiliation

Louisiana State Univ.

Paper Title 6

Begging for Relevance: Medieval Studies in the Modern World

Presenter 6 Name

Christine E. Kozikowski

Presenter 6 Affiliation

Univ. of the Bahamas

Start Date

10-5-2019 1:30 PM

Session Location

Fetzer 1040

Description

Medievalists must walk a tightrope when it comes to engagement with the modern world. On the one hand, we must argue for the significance of our subject within a higher education context increasingly driven by profitability models. On the other, we are called on to engage with or resist uncritical or inaccurate appropriations of the medieval world in the service of modern political or social agendas. We are in a bind, seeking opportunities to demonstrate our relevance in a positive and historically sensitive way while simultaneously deconstructing the ahistorical claims made for our discipline. As current events lead to the use and misuse of “the medieval” in the context of political agendas, torture, racial or cultural prejudices, and a host of other high-stakes public debates, the work of medieval studies must increasingly also be the work of public outreach and engagement.

As members of our field, medievalists are pressured to produce nuanced, “real-time” public scholarship responding to misappropriation of the medieval past. We must anticipate and address questions in our classrooms about the interplay of medieval and modern worldviews. We face the need to educate our colleagues, administrators, and communities about what the Middle Ages is and is not. We also must work to balance our public outreach with a sensitivity to the assumptions inherent in our own scholarly context, which must include an awareness of the historical privileging of specific cultures and canonical works. Lone Medievalists, who are usually the only experts on their subject in their department, university, institution, or community, must manage this balancing act with limited or no support from colleagues or employers. The stakes in these encounters are high, potentially shaping public perception of the medieval past. In addition, the political and economic pressures inherent in these encounters can impact institutional support for our work, teaching, and research.

John P. Sexton

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May 10th, 1:30 PM

The Dragon(s) in the Room: Addressing the Modern Problems of Medieval Studies (A Roundtable)

Fetzer 1040

Medievalists must walk a tightrope when it comes to engagement with the modern world. On the one hand, we must argue for the significance of our subject within a higher education context increasingly driven by profitability models. On the other, we are called on to engage with or resist uncritical or inaccurate appropriations of the medieval world in the service of modern political or social agendas. We are in a bind, seeking opportunities to demonstrate our relevance in a positive and historically sensitive way while simultaneously deconstructing the ahistorical claims made for our discipline. As current events lead to the use and misuse of “the medieval” in the context of political agendas, torture, racial or cultural prejudices, and a host of other high-stakes public debates, the work of medieval studies must increasingly also be the work of public outreach and engagement.

As members of our field, medievalists are pressured to produce nuanced, “real-time” public scholarship responding to misappropriation of the medieval past. We must anticipate and address questions in our classrooms about the interplay of medieval and modern worldviews. We face the need to educate our colleagues, administrators, and communities about what the Middle Ages is and is not. We also must work to balance our public outreach with a sensitivity to the assumptions inherent in our own scholarly context, which must include an awareness of the historical privileging of specific cultures and canonical works. Lone Medievalists, who are usually the only experts on their subject in their department, university, institution, or community, must manage this balancing act with limited or no support from colleagues or employers. The stakes in these encounters are high, potentially shaping public perception of the medieval past. In addition, the political and economic pressures inherent in these encounters can impact institutional support for our work, teaching, and research.

John P. Sexton