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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Thank you for a successful Congress!

6 Jun 2018 9:51 AM | CSM Webmaster (Administrator)

Hello Canadian Medievalists!

Many thanks to all for a successful and engaging annual meeting. We enjoyed a fantastic manuscript and rare book visitation at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox where the local archivist, Gerry Scheibel, gave us a generous tour and gamely looked on as the medievalists handled the college's treasures. That's Gerry on the left below.

Among the many stellar papers (details of some can be found on our twitter feed) were two spectacular plenaries: one joint plenary with AASSC delivered by Thomas Dubois of the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a second plenary from our own Past President, David Watt of the University of Manitoba entitled " What Do We Study When We Study Manuscripts in Canada?" While we didn't get a pic of David Watt giving his absorbing lecture, you can see Thomas Dubois delivering his lecture, "Sacrality and the Landscape in the Nordic Middle Ages," below:

Congratulations are due as well to our prize winners. Shannon McSheffrey  was awarded the 2018 Margaret Wade Labarge Prize for her book Seeking Sanctuary (Oxford UP, 2017).

Kenneth F. Duggan was awarded the Leonard Boyle Dissertation Prize for his dissertation entitled “Communal Justice in Thirteenth-Century England” completed in 2017 at King's College London. Following the conference, Stephanie Lahey (University of Victoria) was awarded the Student Presentation Award for her fascinating paper, "Professional Pages, Done Dirt Cheap: On the Genre of English Offcut Manuscripts." You can see our President, Dominic Marner, awarding Kenneth his certificate, beautifully illuminated by Kathryn Finter, below:

Along with the more scholarly pursuits there was, of course, a great number of first-time meetings, reconnections, and general merry-making, facilitated by the delicious food and drink at Crave. Thank you to all those who came out and made Congress a success!

We'd also like to encourage all members to send information to the CSM/SCM regarding projects, especially those with an on-going digital presence, and publications of any sort that we might share on our site. Simply send an email to including the pertinent details -- a title, blurb, abstract, web address, etc.

To those members who were unable to attend -- you were sorely missed, and we look forward to future gatherings, sharing of research, and conviviality. See you in Vancouver!

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