This month's featured CSM member is our very own webmaster, Andrew Klein!
I received my B.A. at the University of Saskatchewan, in English. There I also completed a Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies. More recently, I completed my doctoral studies in English at the University of Notre Dame.
You’re arriving at an airport for a research trip and the border control agent asks what you do. How do you answer?
I would like to say I don’t flub this simple question – but many of us do under the skeptical stare of the weary border-control officer, don’t we? The combined effects of a border officer in Calais dismissing my long-winded explanation of what I do with “Well, that’s booooring” and an American border officer’s scoffing disbelief that any school would pay me a stipend to study the Middle Ages have meant that I can never really steer myself through this ordeal without stammering embarrassingly incoherent responses. Usually the word “professor” is met with some dim glimmer of recognition in my oppressor’s eyes.
What projects are you currently working on?
Though the semester’s beginning means that projects are beginning to languish, I am looking forward to turning my dissertation (which focuses on England the nation, internationally conceived) into a book, and I have been working on an article on digital visualizations of natural imagery in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and another on the derogatory trope of Scottish footwear. I’ve got a few pieces on bobs, wheels, and manuscript mise-en-page coming down the pipe as well.
What do you think is the best part of being a medievalist?
Other than the people you meet? The breadth of the area. Being a medievalist has opened me up to such a variety of scholarship and scholars. It can be a pain to be expected to teach a thousand years’ worth of literature, but I’m always stretching myself because of it, and meeting interesting folks along the way. The word “medievalist” can also raise eyebrows in a really satisfying way outside of academic circles.
Why did you join the CSM? What other societies do you belong to?
When I was an undergraduate looking to do graduate work, my soon-to-be supervisor, Dr. Yin Liu, said I ought to consider joining. I’m glad that I have: the CSM is a warm, supportive community even when one isn’t able to make it to the annual meetings, and for those of us now living in Trumpland, having a (any!) connection to the motherland is a real boon. I also belong to the Medieval Academy of America, The New Chaucer Society, and The International Arthurian Society.
Where can we find/read some of your work?
The latest volume of Studies in Iconography (2016) has a piece in it by me. I’ve co-authored another piece on mise-en-page that will be coming out, hopefully in 2017, in a collection titled The Medieval Literary beyond Form from Boydell and Brewer.
Any final thoughts?
Teaching at a liberal arts college (Wabash College) has really made me aware of how fortunate we are to have an active, genial community of Canadian medievalists, now connected via the web. I’m glad to have a part in managing the website – and I hope I can bring some useful updates to the site in the near future.