In an earlier post, I posed the statement “You Know You Are a Medievalist When…” In honor of the holiday and time of year, I will offer a quick companion post: “5 Reasons to Be Thankful for Being a Medievalist” (with no disrespect to my colleagues in other fields!).
5) “People, people, people!”
If you ever doubt the generosity as well as the delightful diversity of medievalists, check out one of the bars in Kalamazoo, Michigan, one evening during the International Congress weekend. I have always been grateful for my colleagues and none more than my fellow blogger, John Sexton!
4) “I think you need to be a little more…flexible.”
Medievalists, by their very title, are responsible for at least six hundred years of literature and history, but, more than that, we reach backwards and forwards in time constantly, searching for connections and identifying the evolution of ideas. As a result, medievalists tend to have sub-specialties in classical and Early Modern as well as a command of a significant geographical space. It calls for flexibility and I, for one, think this is a positive of the field.
3) “A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That”
The inherent interdisciplinarity of medieval studies has informed not only my scholarship but how I run my classrooms as well. Art, history, literature, science, theology, etc. – all disciplines work together to inform scholarship. It both keeps everything interesting as well as reinforces the previous point about flexibility.
2) “You Sound Like an Elf from Lord of the Rings!”
I have often been asked if it is difficult to get students to get involved with what I teach. My answer has always been an unequivocal “no.” They want to know more about the medieval world and generally eat up anything you can give them that goes against expectations – the “reality” of courtly love is high on the list. Being the only medievalist in the English Studies Department at FSU allows me a unique perspective in that I may be the only access they ever have during their academic careers to anything medieval. It’s a responsibility, but one I enjoy. (And, yes, I have now heard the Lord of the Rings line at least twice in my teaching career.)
1) “Eventually, you get to like it.”
All right, so being a medievalist may not have the same adrenaline factor – or moral flexibility – as being a hit man like Martin Blank (as always, points if you got the film reference), but the amount of fun medievalists tend to have cannot be ignored. We study monsters, demons, knights, mythology, religion, philosophy, diseases – you name it, we read about it. It is hard not to enjoy a field that calls up images of stories we hear and read about from the time we are kids and remain enamored with whether we dedicate our lives to studying the period or not. Medievalists just get to continue the fun.
These are just a few reasons to be thankful for my profession. My fellow medievalists, feel free to add yours!
A very happy Thanksgiving!