by the ITM Bloggers
Rachel Fulton Brown, a tenured white medieval historian at the University of Chicago, has recently used her blog to attack and disparage Professor Dorothy Kim, an untenured medievalist much her junior. The post foregrounds Dorothy Kim's body as a scholar of color (including the use of a photograph of Professor Kim lifted without attribution and published without consent) and the post belittles Professor Kim's training and intellect — that is, her license for intervening in the field's most urgent conversations. The post ends with the command that Professor Kim "Learn some fucking history." This is not normal scholarly exchange. This is unprofessional discourse by any standard. Just as disturbing is posting pictures of scholars of color to score rhetorical points or to serve the aims of doxxing and harassment. This post irresponsibly misrepresents Professor Kim's work and is woefully under-researched when it comes to both the history of the formation of the discipline (see, among other sources, the work by Professor Kim), the active and inclusive role of the Medieval Academy in the field, and the history of race and its relation to color in the Middle Ages (we have a helpful bibliography here that might serve as a start for those who wish to conduct initial work on the topic, and we highly recommend this essential post by the Medievalists of Color as well).
Rachel Fulton Brown's blog post is ostensibly framed as a response to a guest post on "In the Middle" that Dorothy Kim composed recently about white supremacy and the classroom. Professor Kim's ITM post "Teaching Medieval Studies in a Time of White Supremacy" was published with the full support of all six of us the "In the Middle" co-bloggers. Each of us looked at the post in draft and approved the final form for publication with enthusiasm. A renowned scholar of histories of medieval Christian-Jewish enmeshment, Early Middle English literary and cultural studies, critical theory, Digital Humanities (including manuscript studies, sound studies, and media theory), Dorothy Kim is a frequent guest contributor here at "In the Middle." We will continue to welcome her at this blog and do what we can to support her work.
We stand with Dorothy Kim and we recognize that medieval studies is a far better field for her presence.
Leila K. Norako
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
Cord J. Whitaker
Mary Kate Hurley