This is the last post I wanted to write, but it has become clear that if I do not write it, I will never write anything else.
So here goes.
This time last year I was preparing my file to submit to my department in expectation of being promoted to full professor.
I probably don’t need to say any more, you can all check my title on the department web page now—go ahead, I’ll wait—although as one benefit, as part of the review process I did have to write statements about my research and teaching which I have posted on my academic home page as introductions to my method and goals.
I got the news—I kid you not—on Friday the 13th.
Seven months ago.
Since when, I have been living a lie. Or a half truth. Or...oh, fuck it, it sucks.
Because it is nonsense, of course. I deserve to be promoted to full professor.
I have published a second major monograph with a prestigious academic publisher (our standard in the department, barring an outside offer from another university) that has been …
Milo is easily as famous as Jordan, so it can’t be fame as such. I am easily as well-educated (Ph.D., Columbia University, 1994) as Jordan (Ph.D., McGill University, 1991), so it can’t be education as such. Jordan and I both talk about the importance of the Western tradition and the role of mythology in giving us scripts for how to behave (he says archetypes, I say patterns or models), so it can’t be the arguments he is making as such. It could be that he is a man, and I am not...but I don’t think that that is quite it either.
I think it is because he insists that—whatever mode he is speaking in—he is a scientist. And what people want is for a scientist…
It’s back to class for those of us who teach in medieval studies, and my medievalist colleague Dorothy Kim, Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College (pictured in 2014), wants to make sure you understand the stakes.
The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students.
That does sound bad. But, wait, it gets worse!
Don’t think western European medieval studies is exceptional.... ISIS/ISIL also weaponizes the idea of the pure medieval Islamic past in their recruiting rhetoric for young male Muslims. If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers. So, are…
1. When white women (see Marie de France and Eleanor of Aquitaine) invented chivalry and courtly love, white men agreed that it was better for knights to spend their time protecting women rather than raping them, and even agreed to write songs for them rather than expecting them to want to have sex with them without being forced.
2. When white men who were celibate (see the canon lawyers and theologians of the twelfth century and thereafter) argued that marriage was a sacrament valid only if both the man and the woman consented, white men exerted themselves to become good husbands rather than expecting women to live as their slaves.
3. When white women (see Christine de Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the suffragettes) invented feminism, white men supported them (see John Stuart Mill) and even went so far as to vote (because only men could vote at the time) to let them vote, not to mention hiring them as workers and supporting their education.