Ye Nexte Generacioun: Young Scholars Look to the Next Fifty Years (A Roundtable @ Kalamazoo 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Kaitlin Heller

In honor of the 50th Congress, this roundtable proposes to take a "state of the field" snapshot from the point of view of those who hope to see the next fifty. Scholars now starting their careers face a host of disciplinary, institutional, and technological changes. Even as fields such as queer theory and gender theory are now taking their place in the canon, they are complicated and challenged by new fields, including disability studies, temporality theory, affect theory, ecocriticism, and fan studies. Hiring practices in North America and Europe have shifted in the wake of the recession, resulting in a much-reduced job pool for those seeking tenure-track careers and a much-increased field of sessional workers. The rise of digital technologies and social media, combined with the tremendous vogue of the Digital Humanities, have both increased the possible tools available to medievalists and raised urgent questions about what to do with them.

In this moment of transition, we ask: how have our goals and questions changed? What new technologies will we use? How will we carry forward the disciplinary inheritance of the past and negotiate with the practical demands of academia today? In this roundtable, young scholars will discuss a current project of theirs as a working demonstration of their perspective on the "state of the field." Each of our five panelists will present a paper of 8-10 minutes in length, leaving 40 minutes for group discussion. Our goal is not only to share expertise and discuss the challenges we face, but to begin fostering the communities we hope to build as our careers advance.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Kaitlin Heller ( by September 1, 2014, including a description of both the project you're presenting on and the broader disciplinary shifts to which it connects. This panel is particularly targeted toward scholars in the early stages of their careers; for this reason it is appropriate also, if so desired, for abstracts to discuss how the project fits into current career status and goals.