Blog from CSM President:

In November I had the pleasure of attending a joint conference of the Atlantic Medieval Association and the Atlantic Medieval and Early Modern Group in Sackville, New Brunswick. It started out in an almost-can’t-see-to-drive downpour and ended in a glorious fall day aflame with autumn colours.

The conference is about as small as you can get, and I almost didn’t go this year because – and I’m sure I’m not alone in this – I was swamped with teaching and admin. But small conferences like the AMA are so important. I attended some excellent papers, of course, and actually got the chance to make an astrolabe – Dr.  Samuel Gessner of the University of Lisbon was the keynote speaker, and the “Hands-on History of the Astrolabe” he presented was not a metaphor! (My arts-and-crafts skills are distinctly rusty, I might add.) The real value, though, was in making connections with other medievalists. Increasingly, many of us are the lone medievalists at our universities, and academic societies provide a welcome respite from the isolation and loneliness that can entail.

I was also “pricked” – to use a Middle English word – by a panel responding to the calls to action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Hitherto I had felt a bit helpless in the face of the calls: yes, we can do more as institutions to support Indigenous students; yes, we can support calls for Indigenous literatures and histories, and work on making them mainstream – but honestly, I thought, as a medievalist, there’s not much I can do in my field. Saying “Indigenous peoples were around in the Middle Ages too and so we should study Indigenous cultures from 1000-1500” seemed a bit facile, to my way of thinking (never mind that it is imposing colonizing Western European periodization on the world, and risks cultural appropriation as well).

But the panel got me thinking about the ways in which Canadian medievalists can seriously and genuinely respond to the TRC in our scholarship as well as our institutions. We talked about incorporating Indigenous knowledge practices both in our classrooms, rethinking the top-down lecture approach, and in our scholarship, applying Indigenous theories and approaches to canonical texts. We talked about ways to avoid falling into the trap of “empty words” and “rote repetition” in our acknowledgements of the Indigenous territories our universities are built upon. We talked about countering the alt-right appropriation of medieval images and medievalism. And after the conference Lauren Beck compiled and circulated a bibliography of Indigenous literary and historical theory and methods.

In the coming months I will be posting more about these kinds of topics – both ways to counter the alt-right in our classrooms, and ways of thinking about Indigenous theory in our scholarship. I’d also like to know how you are responding to the TRC, not only in your institution but in your scholarship and teaching. And any Indigenous resources you can send me would be great as well.

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A request for support from the Société des Bollandistes

30 Apr 2018 5:11 PM | CSM Treasurer (Administrator)


Research Institute & Library - Est. 1607

Dear Colleague,

For over four centuries the Société des Bollandistes has been at the forefront of scholarship in the vast field of Christian hagiography. Since the days of Jean Bolland and Daniel van Papenbroeck, through those of Hippolyte Delehaye, Paul Peeters and Baudouin de Gaiffier, its publications, including the Acta Sanctorum, the Subsidia Hagiographica, the Analecta Bollandiana, the Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, Graeca, and Orientalis have been the essential tools of thousands of scholars around the world.

Its library, containing some 500,000 volumes and 1,000 periodicals, as well as its online resources, serve critical scholarship in all areas of hagiography and religious and devotional history. Today’s Bollandists continue this great tradition with the same rigour and dedication. Now, however, they are obliged to depart from their usual discretion because their future is endangered. The Société has been since its inception supported by the Belgian Provinces of the Society of Jesus, but the Jesuits, although willing to maintain the work, are no longer able to provide the finances necessary to sustain this great enterprise. Thus we are launching an urgent appeal to scholars and colleagues around the world to help keep this great and historic tradition alive. I am inviting you to help continue the mission of the Société by becoming a member of the American Friends of the Société through an annual donation to support our work:

And of the Canadian Friends:

We offer membership at USD 100 (CAD 130) a year, but any contribution will help us continue our work. Your gift is fully tax exempt in the US and Canada. Friends will have the possibility of receiving periodic updates on the work of the Société, and will be assured of a warm welcome should they wish to work or simply visit the Bollandist library in Brussels. Further initiatives will be announced in the coming months. However, we emphasize that any level of support you can provide that will help keep this great historical enterprise flourishing in the twenty-first century will be most welcome.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Godding, S. J. Director


Bd. Saint-Michel, 24 1040 Bruxelles Belgique

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