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Response: Chaucerian Values Elaine Tuttle Hansen Bates College Frank grady urged participants in this colloquium to speak to our concerns about the future of Chaucer studies in light of our ‘‘practical administrative experience’’ and to reflect on our ‘‘dual role’’ as scholars and administrators. Each of the preceding four essays has taken the first part of this charge especially seriously, as each contributor tells a story rooted specifically in local institutional circumstances. Sylvia Tomasch writes from the point of view of a department chair searching for a medievalist at a large urban public university; Mary Carruthers as Dean of Arts and Sciences, interested in the ‘‘future of humanities as a whole,’’ at a private research university; Martin Camargo from his comparative experience moving from one large Midwestern university to another; Peter Brown from across the Atlantic, focusing on one moment of crisis at an institution with a special, ‘‘natural’’ reason for studying Chaucer—its location in Canterbury. From each perspective, we see a cautiously, partially, and contingently sunny view of the landscape of Chaucer studies. Clouds on the horizon are acknowledged, but the good news is that crisis either has not materialized or has been averted—often through collaboration—and the forecast is not as bad as we might hear or suspect. Contributors give far less explicit attention to their status as scholar/ administrators. They note that in some cases the cooperation of deans, chancellors, and other senior administrators has been essential; as Brown observes, administrators can be ‘‘enlightened,’’ and Camargo reiterates that the good things he has experienced could not have happened without the dean’s support. Nonetheless, on the few occasions when they I am grateful to several colleagues who took the time to share some of their thoughts about the future of Chaucer studies, including Susan Crane, Columbia University; Jennifer Summit, Stanford University; Anne Thompson, Bates College; and Craig Williamson , Swarthmore College. PAGE 277 277 ................. 11491$ CH12 11-01-10 14:02:13 PS STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER speak directly about their dual role, our participants remain skeptical of administration and valorize the scholarly side. Wry parting comments are a vehicle for expressing this attitude, without overly dwelling on it. Carruthers says she is ‘‘thinking as a dean’’ and, in closing, calls for historians to be deans, but instructs them not to do so for ‘‘too long.’’ And Camargo ends with a (perhaps tongue in cheek) warning to readers —pragmatic, heads-up advocacy and administrative savvy are essential , but watch out; if you are too good at it, ‘‘you just might end up an administrator yourself.’’ In closing, I will take some brief issue with this mildly negative attitude toward administration, but first let me focus in more depth on my worries about the future of Chaucer studies from the perspective of my particular institutional past and present, which is different enough that a quick personal preface may be in order. I was not originally trained as a Chaucerian. In my dissertation, first book, and a few early articles, I wrote about Old English poetry, but I have never had the opportunity to teach my graduate-school specialty. The job market being what it was when I completed my dissertation in 1975, I was grateful to find immediate employment at the Middle English Dictionary in the first year of its mid-1970s Mellon grant, when seven young medievalists were hired to ratchet up production. After three years (from approximately M-4 to P-6), this postdoc immersion in Middle English sufficiently enhanced my credentials for Chaucer jobs, which were a little less scarce than the Anglo-Saxon jobs, and my best first teaching offer just happened to come from a small liberal arts college. Two years later, I moved to a tenure-track position at another small liberal arts college, where I remained for the next twenty-two years. Like most faculty at such institutions, I probably taught more courses outside my field than inside, and my writing, as an outgrowth of my teaching, has been focused on other areas of interest as well as on Chaucer. Moreover, I may already have been an administrator way ‘‘too long.’’ My first foray into administrative matters involved...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 277-287
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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