Ken Tompkins writes:
This isn't exactly of concern to you and the "Middle Folk" but I have heard echoes of it from time to time. I hope you -- and others -- will respond.So there it is, the existential question: why must we be?
Finally, attempts to eliminate teaching the Middle Ages has hit Stockton. Because I am entering our retirement program, my Program (read Department) is thinking about my replacement. The administration of the college has not so subtlety suggested that we should hire someone to teach more modern theories of literature and represent more modern approaches (not a direct quote but close). The Program prefers to replace me with another medievalist -- and will resist administrative pressure -- but eventually may be forced to agree.
A bit of information. As I said, I am in my 43rd year of teaching and am in the process of retiring. I have taught both Medieval and Renaissance literature here for 37 years. My classes are always full so, unlike other colleges, our enrollments in the Medieval courses is not declining. We have felt fortunate until now not to be faced with pressure to replace Medieval studies with something more "current".
I have volunteered to provide material about other, similar colleges and to come up with a list of justifications for keeping the Medieval position. I am, then, turning to you and the others on "In the Middle" for any leads to documents or statements that colleges have produced when faced with similar pressures. Who, out there, has successfully defended continuing Medieval studies? What were their justifications/defenses? Etc.
It would help us if I could be pointed to resources I might include.
One last point: this is NOT a crisis. It is the beginning of a long discussion between our Program and members of the administration. We are likely to be able to hire a Medievalist in a year. It's just that we want to write a thorough, researched, conclusive document on the present state of Medieval studies and why we must continue them here.
Thanks, in advance, for any help you and others may send us.
professor of literature
richard stockton college of nj