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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reflections on Chaucer, Pedagogy, and the Profession of Medieval Studies

  • Author(s): Bale, Anthony
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

Bale’s doctoral research on the representation of Jews in medieval English literature led him to realize that he turned to the late-medieval period seeking not its hospitality but rather its challenges, especially the questions it forces us to ask about ourselves. For Bale, an important question deals with who is allowed within the precincts of Medieval Studies. As the data bears out, the UK’s educational system has been a gatekeeper effectively limiting who takes our courses and, eventually, who teaches our courses and conducts research in our field. To ensure greater access to Medieval Studies, Bale suggests such practical steps as being aware of attainment gaps, avoiding exclusionary behavior, requiring unconscious bias training, and targeting funding for intersectional exclusions. Unless educators remain focused on access issues, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic will to easily distract them and aggravate the disparities. Rather than looking for ourselves in the medieval past, we must see that its alterity requires we seek out alternate perspectives.

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