Hello everyone, and a very happy new year to you. My wishes mostly involve hope and I have conveyed them as best I can here.
So. 2016 was an energetic twelve months here at In the Middle. We're happy that this little electronic space has offered a resource for thinking about the humanities, especially in troubled times, and we are grateful to you for your support. Believe it or not the blog turned ten years old last January -- in fact it's now almost eleven (tempus fugit!). This site has been visited 2,886,727 times as of this moment. Something like 50-75,000 page views occur each month, with visitors concentrated in the US, the UK and Canada but otherwise arriving from around the world.
We published our most popular blog post of all time in December, a magnificent guest essay by Sierra Lomuto on White Nationalism and the Ethics of Medieval Studies that has been read 20,000 times to date. Our second most popular post -- ever! -- is this year's timely guest piece Not Subtle; Not Quaint by Sonja Drimmer and Damian Fleming (accessed 11500 times). Third is a post by Laura Saetveit Miles on The Ethics of Inventing Modernity: Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve (10000 page views). For some context, consider that most scholarly books have an initial print run of perhaps 200 copies; journal articles may reach even fewer readers, depending on venue. We consider In the Middle to be a shared, communal space and we are therefore very happy that these guest posts have resonated. We hope to keep them coming in the months ahead. If you have ideas, contact a co-blogger.
Here are a few highlights from the rich year that has passed. My theory is that difficult times engendered a great deal of energy here, as you'll see from the themes. Let me know what I've missed, especially if you had favorites that did not make this idiosyncratic list -- and feel free to link to other blogs and their important posts in the comments.
- We stand against walls. That declaration cannot be made too often, and I therefore start with it.
- In the wake of discovering participation in the misogynistic "Mens Rights Activism" movement by a prominent senior medievalist, ITM published a statement of values that we re-issued on Facebook after the election. In this we believe: "We welcome the weirdos, the obsessives, the lovers of the minute, the constitutionally uncertain ... 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 ... Our medieval studies is attentive, excited, empathic, at times sad, and above all careful, of itself and of its community." We hope you recognize yourself as part of that community, medievalist or not.
- We collated some similar statements here (see also this), and I wrote a quick post on friendship in the face of homophobia here. You might want to remind yourself about why being present in a time of danger is so important. The piece argues for the intensified importance of social media and emphasizes who pays a price when those of us with the power to speak up choose to vanish rather than act.
- Having collated all of the above, I get the feeling that Donald Trump would not enjoy reading this blog. Tough oranges.
- Last month I formed a FB group called WATCH (Writers Artists Thinkers Challenge Hate) that is now 900 strong and determined to get under his thin skin. Join us! We are crowdsourcing resistance, resources and alternative futures.
- In the wake of some of the troubles of the year, Jonathan composed a beautiful and moving piece on refuge and welcome.
- You will also find a bit on refuge here as well. Refuge is a good word.
- Jonathan also posted eloquently on lessons to be learned in the wake of #femfog, while Dan Kline offered sobering thoughts on the fuller impact of Frantzen's career.
- Not surprisingly given the patent racism of Brexit and the GOP primary and the US election, much of our posting this year was on race and medieval studies: Dorothy Kim on medieval studies, whiteness and antifeminsm as well as The Unbearable Whiteness of Medieval Studies; Cord Whitaker on Resistance, Assimilation, and ‘Pale Faces’ Sixteen Years On; Wan-Chuan Kao on #palefacesmatter; Candace Barrington on moving Beyond the Anglophone Inner Circle of Chaucer Studies; Karl on Karl on whiteness myths and Buridan and dark skin.
- Karl also wrote on language and heritage (see also here), and on muteness, and then gesture, and feral foundlings, and fables as warnings. Karl also composed a whale of a post on medieval animal finitude and suffering; see also here, and really here as well. And check out his two keen pieces on Margery Kempe's vegetarianism: 1 & 2. Many of these themes converge in his post on deviant bodies. And here's a post-election piece. Karl had quite the year. He must have ben on sabbatical or something.
- In addition to the guest posts I've listed above, we hosted not-to-be missed pieces by Adam J. Dexter, Geoffrey Chaucer, David Wallace, Anna Wilson, Michael Johnston and Alex Mueller, and Lowell Duckert.
- I wrote one of the most difficult posts I've composed at ITM. Luckily our son is in a much better place now.
- Speaking about pedagogy, here's a piece on entry level courses. And make sure your read Adam's piece, above.
- About a year ago Eileen Joy departed In the Middle to concentrate on punctum books and para-academic endeavors. In the late summer though we gained a great, new voice in Leila Kate Norako. Check out her post on Eternity Machines, one of my favorites of the year.
- I wrote a piece on not structuring community around the consumption of alcohol, because such gatherings invariably exclude.
- I also wrote about why we ought to support university presses when we buy books (in short, ACCESS).
- It was a good year for challenging the corporate university, even if we are all impure (or as Karl would say, toads). We need to find better ways to live together.
- Related: appreciation of Steve Mentz's new book and a piece on reading for sustenance and ecocritical overviews and a museum wander. And speaking of the environment, here's the medieval anthropocene. And veering your ecology. And precarious hopes (<-- includes cute dog pics). And Noah's ark.
- On medieval people viewing the Earth from space, a preview of the book I wrote with Lindy-Elkins-Tanton about Earth. Look for it in March.
Here's to 2017: the year we resist hate, together.