MAA News – From the President

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It has been a tumultuous few months in the world, in the United States, and in the Medieval Academy as well. The officers (Hal, Peggy, and I), the Council, and Lisa have heard from members about a range of issues; those who have written to us have been both upset by and supportive of recent decisions and actions we have taken (or in some cases, not taken). We have tried to listen carefully and respectfully to all viewpoints and to respond as openly and thoughtfully as possible. Although it has been disquieting (though perhaps not surprising) to see that our membership is no less divided on controversial topics than the world at large, there are also distinctly encouraging aspects to our exchanges. All the correspondence and conversations I have been part of have been notably civil and respectful – that’s no mean feat, in contentious times! Our members’ varying points of view reflect the fact that the MAA is more diverse than ever before, including scholars and teachers with many different backgrounds, experiences, and employment situations. This can occasionally cause discomfort, but it is intellectually enriching as well as necessary for the future of the Academy and scholarship as a whole. Finally, and in my view most importantly, it is clear that we very much still embrace a shared project: all our members are committed to the study and teaching of the distant past and convinced of the value of humanistic scholarship.

This shared project – our widespread agreement on the value of medieval scholarship and pedagogy – has always been, and should continue to be, the focus of the MAA. For that reason, the officers and Council have agreed to revisit the structure and role of the Advocacy Committee – a process mandated at the time the committee was established three years ago. In addition, we have voted to issue a brief statement (see below) opposing the exclusion of scholars from academic events and endeavors on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, or national affiliation, as counter to the MAA’s goal of fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom for medievalists.

Meanwhile, work goes on! Over the summer I shall continue to pursue the three initiatives I mentioned in my last message – safeguarding the financial future of Speculum, helping CARA connect scholars and teachers with research and teaching resources, and organizing remote summer skills courses and workshops. In May Lisa and I held informational sessions for prospective applicants for the Speculum editorship; the search committee will begin to review applications after the July 15 deadline.

Finally, I would like to close with some nice news. The Program Committee for the 2025 Annual Meeting reports a high level of interest and excitement in response to the call for papers; I thank all the members, especially the committee co-chairs Sean Gilsdorf and Eilleen Sweeney, for their hard work. And our own Executive Director, Lisa Fagin Davis, has been elected Chair of the Executive Committee of the CEO (Committee of Executive Officers) of the ACLS, a sister organization even more committed to acronyms than the MAA. Congratulations to Lisa – we are proud of you! This makes me all the more pleased that Lisa and the officers have agreed to renew her contract as Executive Director for another five-year term.

I wish everyone a peaceful and (for those who want it) productive summer.

Sara Lipton


MAA Statement on Academy Boycotts

In these difficult and divisive times, during which MAA members have disagreed, sometimes passionately, on current events, the Council and Officers would like to speak out regarding calls for academic boycotts. We wish to affirm that in keeping with our goal of fostering an environment of diversity, inclusion, and academic freedom for medievalists, the MAA supports scholars in the field of medieval studies regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or nationality; and opposes the deployment of academic boycotts to exclude scholars on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, or national affiliation. The MAA acknowledges feelings of fear, anger, and grief in our membership around these issues. We reaffirm the importance of distinguishing between individuals and their governments, the centrality of dialogue and engagement across differences, and our community’s shared responsibility for promoting these inclusive humanistic values. (approved by the MAA Council on 3 June 2024)

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