MAA News – Speculum Update

speculumErin Pomeroy has recently joined the staff of Speculum as Editorial Assistant. Erin graduated from Wellesley College in May with a double major in French and History (with a particular interest in the Middle Ages). She spent her junior year studying in Aix-en-Provence and has worked as a student conservator at the Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College. She joins Assistant Editor Paul Lindholm in the Academy office, working with Speculum Editor Sarah Spence. Welcome, Erin!

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MAA News – CARA Newsletter

The Spring 2014 CARA Newsletter is now online.

We encourage all members to take a look at these reports from departments, programs, regional associations and libraries around the country. There is a lot of innovative and exciting Medieval Studies programming going on at campuses nationwide. If your department/program doesn’t have a CARA representative, please get in touch with the Executive Director so that you can immediately start taking advantage of the networking and brainstorming opportunities offered by CARA affiliation.

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MAA News – Olivia Remie Constable Fund

remieThanks to an incredible outpouring of support from medievalists, colleagues and friends of Remie Constable, the fund established in her name has raised more than $48,000 in just four weeks. Donations continue to come in, and there is now no doubt that the Olivia Remie Constable Award will soon be fully and permanently endowed.

Remie was a consummate scholar who was aware that gaps in funding exist for emerging scholars. The Constable Award, which will be administered by the Medieval Academy, will be awarded annually to an emerging junior faculty member, adjunct or unaffiliated scholar (broadly understood: post-doctoral, pre-tenure) for research and travel. The award is meant to reflect the high standards of Remie’s scholarship as well as her broader interdisciplinary interests in Medieval Studies (as exemplified by her teaching, her leadership, and her service to the discipline).

A special donation page for the Constable Fund has been set up on our website:

We look forward to announcing the first recipient of the Olivia Remie Constable Award at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy at the University of Notre Dame next March.

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MAA News – Leeds 2014

leedsPlease join us in Leeds for the Annual Medieval Academy Lecture on Tuesday, 8 July, at 7 PM. Rita Copeland (University of Pennsylvania) will be speaking on “Emotional Knowledge: Figurative Language in Medieval Rhetoric” (Michael Sadler Building: Rupert Beckett Theatre). The Medieval Academy will host a wine reception immediately afterwards in the Foyer of the Sadler Building; Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis and Editor of Speculum Sarah Spence will be on hand to answer all of your Academy-related questions.

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MAA News – From the Executive Director

lfdOn July 1, I will officially become Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America. As I begin my tenure, I want to share with you my vision for the Academy’s future.

In the 1926 publication Progress of Medieval Studies in the United States of America, Prof. James Willard of the University of Colorado announced the incorporation of the “Mediaeval Academy of America,” the result of five years of planning by a dozen prominent American medievalists. They couldn’t unanimously agree on the name of the organization; they couldn’t agree on the title of its journal. One thing they did agree on was the choice of the Mediaeval Academy’s first president, E. K. Rand. In the inaugural issue of Speculum, Rand expressed a straightforward vision for the new organization: “The formation in America of a Mediaeval Academy is an encouraging sign of the times…[it] will, we hope, become a rallying point for the cultivation and study of these Middle Ages.” (Speculum 1/1, p. 3).

The establishment of the Mediaeval Academy and the publication of Speculum were greeted with enthusiasm at home and abroad (albeit with a touch of skepticism overseas). In the German daily Neueste Nachrichten, Munich professor Paul Lehmann gasped, “Mittelalter und Amerika!” In Les Nouvelles Littéraires, French ex-pat Alcide de Andria, of Boston University, reported: “Une académie n’est pas aisée à fonder. C’est quelque chose qui ne se fait pas du jour au lendemain : il y a des obstacles, des lenteurs, que n’y a-t-il pas? Mais les Américains, gens supremement pratiques, ne connaissent pas ces embarras, et sans lettres patentes, sans un Richelieu, un Colbert, sans même un Mussolini, voilà, puisque académie il y a, qu’une Académie est immédiatement constituée. Rien de plus simple.”

newspapersWe are indeed “supremely practical,” but we are also optimists (at least, I am). In 1941, the Council of the Medieval Academy passed a resolution declaring the Academy’s intent to contribute to the war effort, not only by assisting displaced scholars and offering “special competence in such fields as linguistics, paleography and diplomatics,” but by continuing to preach “the truth of the humanities…” (Council minutes, April 1941). In the face of recent reports touting the incipient death of the Humanities, the bleak job prospects for newly-minted PhDs, the inevitable decline of The Library, we continue to preach the Truth of the Humanities. In my visits to university campuses around the country, and in my conversations with medievalists at CARA, the Annual Meeting and Kalamazoo, I have not heard stories of despair. Yes, everyone needs more funding. Yes, everyone wants to shorten the average time-to-PhD without watering down the education and training that are central to the process. Yes, everyone wants to ensure that the students we send into the world are able to find gainful and satisfying employment without compromising their personal lives. But Professor de Andria had it right. Medievalists have always faced such obstacles with creativity, innovation, compassion and intelligence. We understand the value of the Humanities. We value hard work and innovative pedagogy. We are early adopters. We understand the importance of balancing the academic and the personal. We embrace “alt-ac” and respect solid independent scholarship. And so does the Medieval Academy.

When E. K. Rand delivered his 1926 presidential address, “Mediaeval Gloom and Mediaeval Uniformity,” the Academy had 503 members and $15,000 cash-on-hand. We’ve come a long way since then, with more than 3,800 members worldwide and a significant endowment. In its 89th year, Speculum continues to be the flagship journal of medieval studies. Although we’ve lost the “æ” in “Mediaeval,” our objectives remain the same as they were in our Articles of Incorporation: “to conduct, encourage, promote and support research, publication and instruction in Mediaeval records, literature, languages, arts, archaeology, history, philosophy, science, life, and all other aspects of Mediaeval civilization, by publications, by research, and by such other means as may be desirable, and to hold property for such purpose.”

But it is no secret that the past few years have been challenging. The Medieval Academy faced financial difficulties, unanticipated leadership transitions and a painful identity crisis. Thanks to the hard work of the Council and the Finance Committee, however, I find myself taking the reins of a vastly-improved and stabilized organization. What was formerly one professional position of Editor/Executive Director is now two, enabling Speculum Editor Sarah Spence and myself to focus our energies on our specific portfolios. My job as Executive Director is to see to the day-to-day functioning of the organization and to recommend and/or implement fiscal and programmatic policy with the oversight and guidance of our program committees, Finance Committee and Council. For the past two years, the Academy budget has run at a surplus, and the current equity market has seen to it that our endowment continues to appreciate. While we have a responsibility to remain fiscally conservative, the Academy now has an opportunity to take advantage of this staffing and fiscal stability to invest our time and our treasure in the future of Medieval Studies.

The Medieval Academy has always had much to offer student members at one end of the professional spectrum and senior scholars at the other. Every year we award nearly $100,000 to support graduate students, and we count on the hard work of dozens of senior scholars serving on Medieval Academy committees to adjudicate awards and craft policy. While the original founders of the Academy were almost entirely white men from New England, the membership and leadership of the organization in 2014 is more geographically, racially, professionally, departmentally and gender diverse than ever before. The recent expansion of professional levels represented at the Annual Meeting and in the pages of Speculum demonstrates that the Academy is in fact an organization with much to offer all medievalists in all disciplines at all levels. By increasing grant and networking opportunities and encouraging a wider engagement with the Committee on Area and Regional Associations (CARA) and volunteer leadership, I hope to make the Academy of even greater relevance to all medievalists.

As medievalists around the world push the chronological, geographic and thematic boundaries of “medieval studies,” the Medieval Academy of America does as well. The scope of the 2014 Annual Meeting demonstrated the Academy’s openness to such broader, interdisciplinary definitions, and the 2015 Notre Dame meeting, with the theme “Medieval Studies across the Disciplines,” will continue this promising development. The definition of “medievalist” is changing as well, stretching beyond traditional academia to embrace alt-ac, digital humanists, adjuncts and unaffiliated scholars. The Academy will work to support these growing constituencies through outreach, moral support, mentoring, programming and funding. The newly-established Olivia Remie Constable Award exemplifies this commitment.

Our engagement with Digital Humanities continues to be strong, with Speculum accessible online, a steadily-growing library of digitized monographs, an increasing engagement with social media, and plans to develop an online database of peer-reviewed digital resources. Even so, we continue to be committed to the printed word, with Speculum always available on paper and new Medieval Academy Books in print.

Even as we look toward a promising future, programs within our bailiwick do sometimes find themselves threatened. The Academy regularly advocates for medieval studies and other humanities programs on the chopping block. As Executive Director, I intend to actively track endangered programs and positions and work with the President and with CARA to advocate for their retention. I also hope to implement programs that will support the conservation, digitization and exhibition of medieval art in North American collections, supporting the preservation of medieval artifacts while at the same time advocating for medieval studies in the public sphere.

With these and other programs in place, and with a firm financial footing and stable leadership, the Medieval Academy will be well-positioned to move into its second century as a world leader in medieval studies. I look forward to working with you to fulfill the hope expressed by E. K. Rand in 1926 and by Academy Fellow George La Piana in his unpublished 1941 ode “De Mediaevalis Academiae”:

In aevum semper obstet malis
academia mediaevalis
vivat, crescat, floreat!

- Lisa Fagin Davis

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MAA News – Dissertation Award WInners

Golden Haggadah, Spain. c. 1320, British Library, Add. MS 27210, f. 15r, detail.

Golden Haggadah, Spain. c. 1320, British Library, Add. MS 27210, f. 15r, detail.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Medieval Academy Dissertation Grants:

Hope Emily Allen Grant: Deborah Shulevitz (Columbia Univ.), “Heresy, Usury and Society in France and Italy, 1178-1311″

John Boswell Grant: Geoff Martin (Univ. of Tennessee – Knoxville), “Mozarab Readers of the Bible, From the Cordoban Martyrs to the Glossa Ordinaria”

Helen Maud Cam Grant: Andrew Welton (Univ. of Florida), “Forging Entanglements: The Spear in Early-Medieval English Society”

Grace Frank Grant: S. C. Kaplan (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara), “Familial Female Educational Networks in 15th-century France: The Case of Agnes de Bourgogne”

Etienne Gilson Grant: Thomas Lecaque (Univ. of Tennessee – Knoxville), “The Counts of Saint-Gilles and the Saints of the Apocalypse: Occitanian Religion and Culture in the Time of the First Crusade”

Frederic C. Lane Grant: Kristen Streahle (Cornell Univ.), “Crafting Nobility in Trecento Palermo: The Painted Ceiling of the Palazzo Chiaramonte Steri and the Baronial Revolution”

Robert and Janet Lumiansky Grant: Joseph Figliulo-Rosswurm (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara), “The State Within Society: Florence in Tuscany, 1300-63″

E. K. Rand Grant: Christopher Fletcher (Univ. of Chicago), “Theology in Action: Religious Thought and the Letter-Form, 1050-1200″

Charles T. Wood Grant: Kathryn Meyers (Michigan State Univ.), “Preparing Their Death: Examining Co-occurrence of Cremation and Inhumation Burials in Anglo-Saxon England”

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MAA News – MAA GSC Graduate Student Mentoring at Leeds International Medieval Congress 2014

The Graduate Student Committee of the Medieval Academy of America invites those attending the International Medieval Congress at Leeds (7-10 July 2014, University of Leeds, England) to participate in the MAA Graduate Student Mentorship Program. The program facilitates networking between graduate students and established scholars by pairing a student and scholar according to discipline. One need not be a member of the Medieval Academy to participate.

The mentorship exchanges are meant to help students establish professional contacts with scholars who can offer them career advice. The primary objective of this mentoring exchange is that the relationship be active during the conference, although mentors and mentees sometimes decide to continue communication after a conference has ended.

To volunteer as a mentor (faculty and independent scholars only) or to sign up as a mentee, please submit the online form, linked to this email, by Monday, 17 June. Find the online form here: GSC Mentoring Form. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me.


Richard Barrett, on behalf of the MAA Graduate Student Committee (

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MAA News – International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds

IMCPlease join us in Leeds for the Annual Medieval Academy Lecture on Tuesday, 8 July, at 7 PM. Rita Copeland (University of Pennsylvania) will be speaking on “Emotional Knowledge: Figurative Language in Medieval Rhetoric” (Michael Sadler Building: Rupert Beckett Theatre). The Medieval Academy will host a wine reception immediately afterwards in the Foyer of the Sadler Building; Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis and Editor of Speculum Sarah Spence will be on hand to answer all of your Academy-related questions.

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MAA News – Kalamazoo Recap

kzooThe 2014 Congress in Kalamazoo was a great success for the Medieval Academy. Susan Einbinder’s plenary on Friday morning was very well-attended and offered a striking case study of interfaith (and interspecies) interaction. The two related sessions (“Violence and Vulnerability I: Slow and  Systemic” and “Violence and Vulnerability II: Sacred and Spectacular”).  These sessions were organized by the MAA’s Kalamazoo Program Committee, comprised of Stephen Lahey, Chair (Univ. of Nebraska), Samantha Kelly (Rutgers Univ.), Sharon Kinoshita (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) and Diane Reilly (Indiana University). The CARA and GSC sessions were also well-attended and sparked much discussion.

The Academy provided physical as well as intellectual sustenance at Kalamazoo this year. The GSC reception was a lively gathering, and the CARA lunch was attended by more than 40 representatives of departments, programs, libraries and regional associations, each of whom had the opportunity to deliver a brief report. Finally, Editor Sarah Spence and Executive Director Lisa Fagin Davis very much enjoyed meeting and speaking with the dozens of members and potential members who stopped by the Medieval Academy table in the exhibit hall, lured by chocolate but staying for conversation.

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MAA News – Speculum News

speculumThis month, Sarah Spence spoke with Medieval Academy News about her vision for Speculum.
Just to be sure the word is out, let me run the risk of repeating it: the backlog at Speculum is gone–only a manageable number of accepted pieces remain in the queue–and the turnaround time has decreased dramatically to an average of 60 days. Submissions had slipped when response was slow (and time to publication even slower) and it is a challenge for a journal to shake that kind of reputation and insist that this is not just a temporary change. The best approach, I think, is to talk less about numbers and more about content and vision, while continuing to demonstrate that we have grown more efficient as a publication.

We can now lift our heads and look around, take stock of where we are and see where we’d like to be going. I think it’s fair to say that what Speculum does right it does very right: often described as the journal of record, Speculum has remained a beautiful, exact, and exacting publication. It should be the place for that article you return to repeatedly–for teaching and for research–the place where the last word on a question might be found. But it could also be the place of the dernier cri, where the latest questions are being broached and tested–perhaps in formats that change with the issues. The growing world of digital communication has made us more comfortable with the process of discovery, and Speculum, with its dual status as both print and online publication, is well positioned to take advantage of that. The editorial board has recently approved pursuing a special digital supplement–a one-time, online only, fifth issue–that would showcase digital resources available to medievalists. Pushing the boundaries is good for content, too: while Speculum is “open to contributions in all fields studying the Middle Ages, a period ranging from approximately 500 to 1500,” to my mind that entails, or could justifiably entail, approaching the period in the context of what precedes and follows it. I found myself explaining this at Kalamazoo in terms of vectors: where did the elements of this medieval world originate? Where did they land? What did they carry with them, those vectors of culture that, in entering and leaving, we identify as medieval? If we see the Middle Ages as a vital and vibrant period, we will admit that it did not surface, Athena-like, from the head of antiquity, but, rather, emerged–as it devolved–slowly, even organically. I would like to see us pursue that approach in space as well as in time, looking across the borders of language, religion, nation, gender to understand better where the Middle Ages fit into the bigger cultural picture. And within the borders there are plenty of questions still to ask: about the nature and function of history, of literature, of art, about the quality and source of our data, be they archival or archaeological. There is no better way to display the interdisciplinarity that we expect in a Speculum article than by questioning the lines drawn between disciplines. My wish, finally, is that Speculum continue to publish rigorous research on the Middle Ages, as it has always done, and that it will do so by seeing and setting those years in the broadest possible cultural landscape.

My vision for the print journal has itself evolved over the last few months. I was sure that one major change I wanted to make right away was to make the book reviews online only, following the model of the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. I was also pretty confident that the print journal would soon give way to digital. Now I’m not so sure. I have been told repeatedly that people especially like having the reviews in print because they like to sit down and read through them, learning about projects that are perhaps tangential to their own. Many readers-seemingly a large percentage of our membership-prefer the print version of Speculum. The choice of a four-color cover was aimed at celebrating that version: the glow of the colors, greater fidelity to the original object, and even the feel of the cover stock are all aspects of the print version that are absent or different from the online one.

For the foreseeable future, then, Speculum will showcase the results of research into the Middle Ages through a variety of media and means. We look forward especially to receiving submissions that illuminate the period by testing its boundaries, one way or another. And we commit to keeping the journal on a schedule that makes it a viable place for scholars of all ranks and disciplines to publish.

–Sarah Spence (

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