NCS Statement About Public Discourse

The New Chaucer Society joins with other medievalist societies in recognizing and defending the right of medieval scholars to publish their views without being subject to cyberbullying, misrepresentation, ad hominem comments, racial smears, or ethnic slurs. At the same time, we cannot condone the practice of attacking with ridicule or profanity the work or intellectual positions of scholars with opposing views. We also deplore the posting of details of scholars’ private lives (photographs, contact details) – so-called “doxxing” – that expose them to the possibility of third-party individuals targeting and harassing them in private or public. Such conduct is deeply unprofessional, and should not be tolerated. Scholarly ethics demands that tenured colleagues respect the vulnerability of untenured colleagues, and that we all practice integrity in public discourse.

Our field has a long history of scholarly engagement with issues of race, colonialism and ethnicity, one that has a long heritage and includes the work of many active and committed members of the New Chaucer Society, who have challenged our assumptions by insisting that these issues are unignorable, if often unacknowledged, aspects of our discipline. Along with many faculty and staff in higher education, we uphold the ideals of inclusivity and collegiality. Our Society is an international organization, not an exclusively US one, with members on every continent. In common with many US medievalists, our members around the world have striven to make their classrooms welcoming for a diverse body of students and, to that end, have engaged critically with popular misrepresentations of the Middle Ages, which include the appropriation of medieval iconography and history by Neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and other openly racist groups in the US and elsewhere. Together we are working to build a scholarly community founded on the exchange of views, critical enquiry, and good scholarship.

The Board of Trustees, 9/18/2017 (Edited 9/30/2019)