Statement of Support

Dear colleagues,

From the Executive Committee of the Medieval Studies program:

The public murder of George Floyd by an officer of the law was but one in a long line of injustices imposed on Black lives by a system that has for centuries refused to recognize them as human equals. The Program in Medieval Studies supports the calls for justice of those who have risked health and life to protest, and joins them in calling for an end to the power structures that perpetuate white supremacy in America and elsewhere.

It is necessary for us to speak out on this point, not only because of the historic whiteness of Medieval Studies as a discipline—an exclusionary imbalance shared with much of the American academy—but because the European Middle Ages have long figured as a site of origin for racist theories of history, ethnicity, and nationhood, and have been used to naturalize and justify racist power structures. But no appeal to the past can justify what is unjust. We in Medieval Studies reject all forms of racism and racialized oppression.

As a discipline, Medieval Studies is already shifting beyond a narrowly Eurocentric view. But we cannot wait for broader change. The Program in Medieval Studies recognizes the need specifically and actively to oppose anti-Black bias, and commits itself to the following forms of immediate action:

1. A plan to ensure and increase diversity in the graduate program, established prior to the next admissions cycle. This is to include outreach, as well as safeguards in review.

2. An ongoing series of teaching discussions on how to acknowledge and productively discuss anti-Blackness in medieval scholarship and thought.

3. Incorporation of medieval Africa into the Program’s scope. In the near term, this will take the form of a yearly lecture on a medieval African topic each Spring.

These actions are intended as a beginning, and as part of an ongoing process of change in the Program, university, and field at large.

Yale’s Program in Medieval Studies is an autonomous interdisciplinary enterprise, with faculty drawn from many relevant humanities departments - Classics, Comparative Literature, English, French, German, History, History of Art, Italian, Music, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Spanish and Portuguese - along with the Divinity School, the Beinecke Library, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. There are some forty faculty members at Yale who work on the various cultures of the Middle Ages. Together we form one of the largest assemblies of specialized medievalists in any university of the United States. Students have access to all of these faculty and to the courses, both graduate and undergraduate, that they offer each term. Read more


No events to display.


August 29, 2019
By Kendall Teare   “The Map Psalter,” a medieval world map. Circa 1262-1300. Held by the British Library. This year at Yale, two new literature classes will push the...