Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Our Values + Thanks Donna Zuckerberg/Jezebel

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, "Enigma-Riddle-Joke" (2015)

First of all, read Jeffrey's post below, showcasing the wonderful, heartbreaking work of Dan Kline, which we have been so privileged to publish here often. There, Jeffrey writes:
We as a field have not yet had an open conversation about the conditions that have enabled the flourishing, endurance and continued toxic effects of so much misogyny, racism, abuse. But it's important to me to look at once backwards and forwards, like the Janus head that is our ITM emblem. Our communal gaze should not be averted from trauma and invidious history, nor should we stop attempting to discern the horizon of a more humane future. No forgetting, no excusing, no ceasing of the forward gaze.
Next, we as a collective of bloggers would like to affirm the values we believe in, and we hope, practice here. Now, it may be funny to say "We as a collective of bloggers" in 2016, long after the Blogosphere has given way or returned to, well, paid edited writing (if not actually well-paid, edited writing). But I feel I can say "collective of bloggers" now, with pride, because we've had the privilege over the past almost 2 weeks of amplifying the activism of Eileen Joy, Dorothy Kim, and others who have been working so relentlessly and righteously to make a better medieval studies and a better scholarly community.

So, we as a collective of bloggers, or even We as In the Middle, join with the Material Collective ("Embracing the Fog") and MEARCSTAPA ("Diversity Statement") and Elaine Treherne, speaking with Anglo-Saxonists (#ILoveOldEnglish) in proclaiming our values. Thank you, readers, for being part of this community. We couldn't have written this without your inspiration:
People want to be medievalists for a lot of different reasons. Some are drawn to the Middle Ages because it offers up a time of supposed ethnic purity, a lost ideal, a culture of sacred obedience, or an admirable ethos of warrior heroism. Our outlook for medieval studies resists all this. We welcome the weirdos, the obsessives, the lovers of the minute, the constitutionally uncertain. We welcome those drawn to the Middle Ages  because it calls to them as a time forgotten and disdained by the demand that we be “up to date” and only “of the present.” Our medieval studies would not be possible without feminists, without queers, without posthumanists, without those who insist that the paired notions of a “white medieval Europe” and a “Christian Europe” are cruel anachronisms. Nor would it be possible without the joy of sharing our love in discoveries about, say, ascenders in late English script, or the trade in coconuts, or the transport of stories of holy greyhounds, in knowledge that maybe no one else values.
Our medieval studies is attentive, excited, empathic, at times sad, and above all careful, of itself and of its community.
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
Jonathan Hsy
Mary Kate Hurley
Karl Steel
Finally, thanks so very much to Donna Zuckerberg for writing such a fair, sharp, comprehensive take on antifeminism and academia and Allen J. Frantzen's very public embracing of the so-called Men's Rights movement. And thanks to Jezebel for publishing it. It's rare that medievalists get much attention from larger media, and rarer still that we're engaged with so well. A quote, which rightly recognizes that Frantzen is a symptom:
I’m worried about the professor who uses a meeting with female graduate student that’s supposed to be about offering critique to ask her opinion on a birthday gift for his wife. The professor who introduced me to a visiting lecturer as the person who bakes cookies for coffee hour. The professor who calls criticism made by a male academic “sharp” and the same criticism by a female academic “shrill.” The man who explains a woman’s work to her. The reviewer who suggests that a paper with two female authors could use a male perspective and the conference organizer who thinks nothing of having multiple all-male panels. The hiring committee with an undeniable bias against female professors with children and the administrator who forces the tenure-track professor to consider her pregnancy a disability. Let’s not forget these toxic people, the ones who don’t do us the courtesy of plastering offensive bumper stickers on their cars. Some of them are almost certainly among those loudly denouncing Frantzen.

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