If you attended last year’s International Congress on Medieval Studies (or if you keep up with social media and related online discussions), you may recall that the organizers of the Congress were criticized for not doing enough to foster a safe, inclusive environment. As a result, several scholars of color have since decided not to attend the ICMS.
Over the past year, the ICMS convened a working group to address these systemic issues, and we expect to hear some feedback from that group at this year’s event. A member of our leadership participated in the group, and we hope to continue helping the ICMS work towards change.
At the same time, though, we at the Material Collective believe that the absence of scholars of color at this year’s Congress is a detriment to us all. More specifically, we acknowledge that–as white and white-passing medievalists–ignoring the criticisms raised by scholars of color would make us complicit in upholding those problematic structures. We are learning what it means to be white in medieval studies, and we are working towards being better allies. To that end, in addition to our sponsored session, we will be promoting and participating in events that we hope will contribute to the discussion of Whiteness in Medieval Studies that the Medievalists of Color began over the last two years.
- At our Business Meeting on Friday, May 10 at 12:00pm in Bernhard 107, we plan to use a portion of the time to announce a planned summer study group on whiteness and race in medieval studies and the modern world. (Below are two short readings for a preview) The idea for a reading group emerged after last year’s conference, and we’re working with the leadership of the International Society for Studies in Medievalism to make the group happen for summer 2019. We’re hoping that we can plan ahead for more sessions on race and related issues for Kalamazoo 2020. More specific details and a bibliography will follow, but PLEASE attend the Material Collective business meeting at the Kalamazoo conference in order to learn more.
- The BABEL/Material Collective Reception (which will be cash bar this year, but a limited number of free drink tickets will be available for grad students and those in the precariat) on Friday, May 10 at 5:15pm in Bernhard 208. We hope to hear a report at the reception about how things went with the ICMS working group’s efforts over the past year.
- Our Material Collective sponsored session (#482), The Middle Ages, What Does it Have to Do With Me? (A Roundtable and Guided Discussion), co-organized by Rachel Dressler (U. Albany) and Maeve Doyle (Eastern Connecticut State U), will take place on Saturday May 11 at 3:30pm in Schneider 1360. We will have three presentations: “Medieval Identities in the Modern Classroom” (Sarah Bromberg, Fitchburg State College), “Social Media as a Ground for Connecting Schools and Scholars” (Lisa Gilbert, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia), and “Finding my way: What the Middle Ages means to a Latina stuck in the North Atlantic” (Nahir I. Otaño Gracia, Beloit College). The conversation will center around fostering and expanding engagement with medieval studies. We believe any discussion of public medievalism should also participate in the broader dialogues around race and intersectionality.