Number 2

Vital Signs: English in Medieval Studies in 21st Century Higher Education
Three essays by Wendy Scase, Richard K. Emmerson and Robert E. Bjork, edited by Elaine Treharne

Publication date: Thursday 4 April 2002

The position of Old, and to a lesser extent, Middle English has been under pressure from an expanding modern syllabus, increased student numbers and underinvestment in staff or infrastructure. Despite these pressures, however, Medieval Literature continues to flourish in many institutions in the British Isles, Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia. As the three papers in this collection illustrate, the future of Medieval Studies seems assured. There is, though, no room for complacency or stasisMedieval Studies must continue to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of new generations of students and to reach out to a wider audience.

Wendy Scase discusses the challenges facing scholars in English Departments, focussing on the need to provide interesting and accessible tools for students whose knowledge and appreciation of early literature and language is often very limited.

Richard Emmerson evaluates major scholarly publications in the field through the 1990s and early 2000s that assimilate disciplines, cross traditional chronological boundaries and elucidate new critical modes of analysis, and also looks beyond the academy to the public conception and reception of the medieval.

The relationship between professional scholars and 'popular medievalism' is one of Robert Bjork's focal points in his contribution: he illustrates the benefits of collaborative endeavours within a range of activities. His highlighting of the possibilities for medievalists, particularly with regard to 'outreach' gives much food for thought.

ISBN 0 900232 20 X 35pp


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