MAA News – From the Executive Director

Dear Colleagues,

During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Medieval Academy of America staff, governance, and volunteers have been hard at work. We have kept the business of the Academy moving forward. We have supplemented our regular programming with online webinars, all of which were recorded and are available here. In collaboration with the National Humanities Center, we’ve nearly completed the development of our upcoming online course for K-12 educators on Africa and Africans in the Middle Ages. We’ve developed and begun implementation of several inclusivity and diversity initiatives and programs. We’ve continued adding to our Database of Medieval Digital Resources and moved forward with several monograph publications. We’ve initiated a blog series on working beyond the tenure track. And Speculum  continues to publish forward-looking research.

We hope you will continue to join us in our work by renewing your membership for 2021. If your membership is set to expire at the end of 2020, you’ll hear from us in a few days by email with a renewal notice. I hope you have found your membership in the Medieval Academy to be worthwhile this year. I value each and every interaction I have with members, and I hope you will continue to be part of the conversation as we work to build a better Medieval Studies in 2021 and beyond.

The Medieval Academy office has been closed since mid-March but is gradually reopening, with myself or other staff coming in periodically as Boston and Massachusetts health protocols allow. I am exceedingly grateful to the MAA office staff – Sheryl Mullane-Corvi and Christopher Cole – for their efforts during this period, and to the Speculum staff working under the guidance of editor Katherine Jansen – Assistant Editor Carol Anderson and Editorial Assistant Austin Powell, along with Speculum Editorial Interns Maia Driggers and Paul Smith. In addition, we offer our congratulations to Speculum Associate Editor Taylor McCall on the birth of her son and look forward to welcoming her back after her maternity leave.

The “old normal” is long gone and the future is uncertain. Even as we move to adapt to the “new normal,” the Medieval Academy continues its vital work of promoting and supporting medievalists and medieval studies through publication, funding, and advocacy. Our work is even more important now. In the wake of COVID-19, jobs are being eliminated, research funds zeroed out, and admissions slots frozen or cut. The outside world looks pretty grim right about now. But during these difficult months, I have also seen extraordinary acts of empathy, kindness, and generosity. Online classes, meetings, and conferences are morphing into spaces for learning, sharing, and dialogue. We’ve all honed new skills in the last few months (it’s hard to believe there was a time, not so long ago, when I didn’t know the difference between an online “meeting” and an online “webinar”). Like many of you, I am learning to adapt to online modes of pedagogy and have assembled a collection of Zoom backgrounds for every occasion. But we miss seeing each other in person. I miss seeing you in person.

I don’t know yet what the world will look like next April, when our Annual Meeting is scheduled to take place at Indiana University, Bloomington. I hope that we will be able to greet you there in person. We will keep you posted if circumstances require us to change our plans.

In the meantime, I wish you well. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns about your membership or about the work of the Medieval Academy of America.


Lisa Fagin Davis
Executive Director

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