Dear Academy Members,
Welcome to summer. For those who teach in the Northern Hemisphere, congratulations for making it through another academic year. And for medievalists both inside and outside the academy, I hope that the longer days, warmer weekends, and vacation days provide us all with the opportunity to read outside our fields, spend a couple of hours contemplating medieval objects in a local museum, or to travel to medieval sites and archives.
Before everyone disappears into their summers, I want to draw your attention to two pieces of essential reading––the MAA’s report on academic positions in medieval studies and a call for papers.
The report comes out of a proposal made in 2020 by the Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Diversity to gather data on the medieval job market. The new report is based on job data collected and analyzed by Merle Eisenberg, of Oklahoma State University, with help from Laura Ingallinella, Skyler Anderson, Jonathan Henry, and Cate Kurtz. Thanks to their hard work, we now have seven years of data on tenure-track jobs (2015–16 to 2022–3) in History, English, Islamic Studies, Italian Studies, Art History, and Religious Studies/Theology. The data confirms what many of us suspected: academic employment for medievalists with Ph.D.s has narrowed considerably over the past decade, the job market for medievalists has not returned to its pre-Covid levels, and tenure-track positions across disciplines are disappearing. Merle’s report is essential reading for anyone who teaches graduate students or who is a graduate student. It underscores how important it is that Ph.D. programs train their students for a broad array of careers and that we all need to continue working to ensure that medievalists outside the academy can remain active in the field after they have written their dissertations. The future of the study of the Middle Ages depends on it!
The second piece of essential reading is the call for papers for the 99th Medieval Academy Annual Meeting, which will be held at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on March 14–16, 2024.
The themes of the upcoming conference are “Mapping the Middle Ages,” “Bodies in Motion,” and “Communities of Knowledge.” It is going to be a terrific meeting with excellent papers, exciting off-program activities, and a lot of time for conversation. Please consider submitting a proposal for an individual paper or a complete panel. The deadline is 15 June.
Robin Fleming, President of the Medieval Academy of America