Dear Academy Members,
As we approach the Annual Meeting later this month, I would like to highlight two features of the 2023 meeting that merit replication in future MAA conferences. The first is its inclusion of medievalists reflecting the career diversity that is keeping our field vital as the academic landscape changes. The second is its mobilization of a wonderfully diverse regional community of medievalists to create this event.
The Annual Meeting program features an impressive array of medievalists working beyond the tenured or tenure-track positions in higher education that have long defined our “profession.” In the first set of concurrent sessions on Thursday February 23rd, for example, a roundtable on “Scholarly ‘Crowdsourcing’ the Chalice of Abbot Suger,” draws on the expertise of an object conservator (Dylan Smith), a curator of sculpture and decorative arts (Emily Pegues), and a visual arts digital humanist (Matthew J. Westerby) from the National Gallery of Art as well as from a professional object photographer (Genevra Kornbluth). Independent scholars—such as art historian Julie A. Harris, retired diplomat Marie Richards, and cultural historian Tova Leigh-Choate—are contributing to sessions as are a high school Latin teacher, Laura Robertson, and journal editors Leland Grigoli and Colin Whiting. Museum professionals from the MET Cloisters, Dumbarton Oaks, Walters Art Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Baltimore Museum of Art are participating in sessions too. These medievalists who have built careers beyond the shrinking faculties of our beleaguered institutions of higher education will be sharing their scholarship with us and their experiences in re-imagining professional life for medievalists in the twenty-first century.
This year’s Annual Meeting also models how to build community and strengthen scholarly cooperation in the local/regional eco-systems of medievalists that will be increasingly important for medieval studies. Its Program Committee and Organizing Committee include members from fifteen institutions in the greater Washington DC area, among them The Public Medievalist, the Library of Congress, the Center for the Advanced Study of the Visual Arts, as well as academic institutions ranging from Northern Virginia Community College, the United States Naval Academy, and Mount St. Mary’s University to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Georgetown, and Johns Hopkins. Independent scholars and librarians contributed alongside faculty members to create this annual conference of the Medieval Academy of America. As we know, both the financial and environmental costs of national and international conferences are increasingly unsustainable. But this doesn’t mean we have to give up sharing our scholarship and socializing with colleagues. It does mean that getting to know our local and regional medievalists is a great investment in scholarly support and intellectual life. I am grateful to Annual Meeting co-organizers Jennifer R. Davis and Laura K. Morreale for their visionary and inclusive leadership.
Finally, in this last presidential letter of my term, I thank all of YOU, the members of the Medieval Academy of America. It has been an honor to serve you and learn from you.
With gratitude and warmest regards,
Maureen C. Miller, President of the Medieval Academy of America