CARA Annual Meeting – Sunday, 18 April 2021

CARA Annual Meeting
SUNDAY, 18 April 2021

18:00 GMT / 13:00 ET / 10:00 PT
(following the CARA Plenary Session)

Separate registration (free of charge) is required for the CARA Annual Meeting. Registering for the MAA Annual Meeting does not register you for the CARA Annual Meeting, and you do not need to register for the MAA Annual Meeting in order to attend the CARA Annual Meeting.

Use this link to register for the CARA Annual Meeting:

1:00–1:15 PM:
Welcome and Introductions, CARA Chair, Anne E. Lester

Approval of new CARA Chair (Sean Gilsdorf) and new Executive Committee Members

CARA SESSION: Surviving and Thriving through a Time of Crisis: Conversations on Envisioning Medieval Studies in the US at the Close of the Centenary

The past year has presented innumerable challenges, professionally, personally, structurally, and for Medieval Studies in particular. It has been a time of profound loss and reckoning but also for imagining new futures. Inspired by the conversations and dialogues convened 2020 by the MAA’s Inclusivity and Diversity Committee and The Folger Library’s Critical Race Conversations, and adapting to the online forum, this year’s CARA meeting will feature a series of critical conversations aimed at guiding us forward through this time of crisis. Recognizing that CARA’s members offer different sets of experiences and expertise, we hope to learn from and with each other about strategies for moving our programs, curricula, and outreach initiatives forward in new ways. The challenges generated by the 2020 Covid pandemic, by systemic racism, civil unrest, and a constricted job market, among other issues, mark an important moment of assessment in the final years of the MAA’s first century. This is also a moment to begin to re-envision the future of medieval studies and to consider how CARA can work to support all medievalists – whether in academic positions or working outside the academy – and to help us stay connected as Medieval Studies communities.

This year’s meeting will take a new shape. Eschewing the model of three stand-alone presentations, we will take up a set of interlocking conversations. We will introduce our panel of discussants and they will offer a few brief remarks. We will then break into smaller, facilitated, break-out groups for 30 minutes to discuss a common set of three critical questions (see below). We will then reconvene to pose those questions, among others, to our panel of discussants as part of a larger conversation (45 minutes) focused on stories from the crises and how to envision ways forward for Medieval Studies, thinking in particular about what it means to both to ‘survive’ and to ‘thrive’ as individuals and communities. There will be time for questions at the end (15 minutes). There is no doubt that we are made stronger together, through shared values and collective insights. Our goal is to make available our collective wisdom, to learn from our experiences, and to draw up some guidelines for the future. Indeed, what do we envision as the role of Medieval Studies going forward?

1:15-1:45 PM: [Small group discussions will be facilitated by CARA Executive Committee members]

Break-out Conversations focused on shared questions:

Participants are encouraged to share and draw from their own experiences – negative and positive – in these discussions.

1) Given the challenges of budget cuts, institutional shortfalls, and the disappearance of many departments and programs in the wake of Covid, in what ways can we strategize to increase engagement with Medieval Studies to facilitate enrollments and encourage a longer and more inclusive perspective on the past?

2) Acknowledging that many institutions and disciplines have their roots in systemic racist perspectives and structures and that many have programs to build up diversity and inclusivity, how can we more fully address promotion and integration beyond inclusivity and diversity in our teaching, administration, and scholarly practices? What sorts of critical habits of thought can we take up and put into practice to build forward a more critical form of Medieval Studies? How can we center the lives and resistances of BIPOC and AAPI communities so that we can move beyond abstraction and theories, and tend to the lived experiences of our BIPOC and Asian American and Pacific Islanders students particularly at a moment when they are experiencing the trauma of the recent Atlanta shootings and other acts of violence?

3) This year of the pandemic has made clear how precarious our profession is in many places and instances. Joblessness, isolation, and a lack of resources have made being a medievalist untenable in many cases. We ask discussants to reflect on the document, Supporting MedievALLists: Best Practices for Centers and Regional Associations put forward in 2020. What strategies can we envision to address increasing precarity among PhDs, junior faculty, students, adjunct instructors, and independent scholars? How can we better define our notion of community?

1:45-2:00 PM: Break

2:00-2:45 PM: Panel Discussion: Surviving and Thriving

Invited Panel Discussants:
Moira Fitzgibbons (Marist College)
Gina Brandolino (University of Michigan)
Nicole Lopez Jantzen (Borough of Manhattan Community College-CUNY)
Valerie Michelle Wilhite (International Medieval Society-Paris, Americas Director).

2:45- 3:00 PM: Questions & Discussion

We will follow up after the meeting with an additional questionnaire about your affiliation, program, center, and perspectives with an eye to creating a digital database and CARA mailing list for the future.

We look forward to seeing you virtually this April and to engaging CARA members in this new forum for discussion.

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