Please take a moment to read "BlacKKKShakespearean: A Call to Action for Medieval and Early Modern Studies" by Kimberly Anne Coles, Kim F. Hall, and Ayanna Thompson in the latest issue of MLA Profession.
A key excerpt:
White teachers teach the works of pre- and early modern periods.
White scholars cite each other’s work.
White directors direct the works.
White producers produce the works.
White narratives are reproduced in and through the works.
White reporters and pundits define the state of the fields.So the question must be the following: How can we irrevocably alter the current lack of diversity in our fields? A large body of research demonstrates the positive effects that faculty members of color have on the educational receptiveness, knowledge acquisition, and learning outcomes and successes of students from underrepresented groups. But while increasing the number of scholars of color in the instruction of premodern and early modern literature should be the commitment of every English department, there are simply not enough scholars of color in the pipeline. These same departments are not producing many scholars of color in their PhD programs, after all. Thus, there is a chicken-and-egg problem:
There are very few dissertation directors, committee members, and mentors of color in medieval and early modern studies, so
graduate students of color opt to do research in later periods where they see more representation among the faculty and their peers, and
these graduate students of color receive greater opportunities for mentorship and collaboration in these later fields, therefore
pre- and early modern studies continue to remain oh so white.We cannot yield up medieval and early modern studies as fields for white students only. As the general population in the United States continues to diversify, surely our fields’ recalcitrant homogeneity will result in the death, or at the very least the atrophy, of the fields themselves. If we wish to nurture faculty members of color in earlier periods of literary scholarship, then we need a concerted strategic plan.
Read the whole thing HERE.