President: James M. Powell,
Midwest Medieval History Conference
Saturday, October 22, 1966
9:15 A.M. REGISTRATION. Whittenberger Auditorium
WELCOME: Joseph L. Sutton, Vice-President, and Dean of
LUNCHEON AND BUSINESS MEETING, Frangipani Room
2:30 p.m. AFTERNOON SESSION
6:15 DINNER, Frangipani Room
Mid-Year Update Letter
April 25, 1966
Dear Fellow Members of the Midwest Medieval Conference:
As you remember, our Fifth Annual Meeting will be held on October 22, 1966, at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Professor Arthur Hogue has been working hard to prepare for our coming and he promises a traditional Hoosier welcome. Professor Gray Boyce and the Program Committee have arranged a meeting that should be one of our most interesting. You will receive additional information about the meeting next fall.
The Midwest Medieval Conference is entering its fifth year with all the vigor of a healthy young giant. It has succeeded admirably in providing a forum for greater communication between scholars in our field. Its size has preserved its personal and informal character, yet, it has not grown exclusive. Let us labor to promote these ideals in the future.
Perhaps the moment has arrived, however, for our group to consider some projects for the general benefit of Medieval Studies. It is dangerous to rest on past accomplishments. At the fall meeting, the President will propose to the members several possible directions for future action. In this letter, we will deal with one that lies close to the aims of the Midwest Conference.
In an era of great emphasis on technology and science, the study of the Middle Ages is enjoying a great prosperity. Yet this moment of riches has brought problem. First, the demand for qualified Medievalists has increased faster than the growth of enrollments in graduate programs. Second, the mobility of faculty has made difficult the task of maintaining and strengthening graduate programs in even the major centers. Third, training for our field demands special skills beyond those that can be offered by many colleges.
One solution to these problems that offers itself is greater institutional co-operation so that several schools may accomplish together those objectives that are beyond the resources of any one institution. Regional planning, wherein several schools within a hundred mile radius join officially to form a Center for Medieval Studies, would make possible much stronger undergraduate preparation and, hence, better graduate training. By establishing a one semester visiting student program during the second half of the Junior or the first half of the Senior year, it may become feasible to offer special courses in Medieval Latin, Paleography, Art, Literature, Philosophy, etc., to those who desire to pursue graduate work in this area of study. These courses might also appeal to students of Classics, literature, philosophy, etc., as well as those with a deeper interest in the Middle Ages. Of course, any effort to build such cooperative programs will meet some obstacles, but the needs of our discipline call for a bold effort to meet the challenges of growth and adaptability.
Please mark October 22 on your calendar and we will meet you in Bloomington.
James M. Powell
On October 22, 1966, the medieval historians of the Midwest celebrated their fourth annual conference on the campus of Indiana University. The broad and mysterious region from which they came was on this occasion bounded by Toronto, Hither Massachusetts, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Colorado. Doubtless they were lured from such remote parts by the prospect of an all-star program, for the annual impresarios, headed by Gray Boyce, blandished them with the names of Raymond Schmandt and Catherine Boyd; Donald Sutherland, Peter Riesenberg, and Lester Little; not to mention Richard Sullivan, as it were, for dessert. On their arrival, our wandering scholars marveled at the comforts of yet another modern academic xenodochium, where Arthur Hogue, their provident host, left nothing to be desired. After a morning divided between the Gepids and the novelties of Italian church history, some 130 scholars retired to a certain Frangipani room, where fittingly they broke bread.
This accomplished, President James Powell conducted the group through its annual order of business, duly beginning with the secretary's minutes, after which Richard Sullivan, as chairman of the nominating committee, presented a slate of candidates, namely Stuart Hoyt for president; Lon Shelby for vice-president; Richard Kay for secretary; Deno Geneakoplos and John Sommerfeldt as councillors. These nominees were elected by acclamation.
The place of next year's conference was then to be considered, but as a necessary preliminary, Lon Shelby, as chairman of an ad hoc committee, suggested some guidelines for the selection of future conference sites. Basically, about a hundred and fifty medievalists want to confer, sleep, eat (and perhaps drink) as comfortably as they have in the past. Moreover, their rendezvous should be easily accessible by air, rail, and auto, lest they be absent for an unseemly length of time from their professorial chairs. Now this last requirement would lead any other profession to convene in a metropolitan hotel, but (Shelby explained) academic curiosity urges us to graze, however briefly, on a campus greener than our own. Thus it was proposed that the conference continue its tour of hospitable Midwestern schools, the more accessible, the better. As a general rule, the committee suggested that the conference not stray too many states away from Illinois, where it was born; but having laid down this rule, Shelby hastened to soften it with an exception: to wit, that every few years the conference should range out to the periphery of the Midwest, if only to discover where that may be.
Although these principles were not promulgated as official dogma, they soon were applied in practice, for when President Powell announced that Allan Schleich had invited the conference to meet next year at Creighton University in Omaha, the acceptance was moved, seconded, unanimously approved, and applauded.
To assist the host with local arrangements, the president designated Professors Bowsky and Sutherland; and the program was entrusted to Frank Pegues, Catherine Fisher Drew, and John Barker. The president then reassured prospective hosts that they need not provide bread and circuses at their own expense, for although the conference has neither dues nor funds, still the constitution authorizes the host to set a registration fee large enough to cover his operating expenses. Having thus ordered the domestic economy of the conference for another year, the president turned to greater matters.
Professor Pegues announced that a new plan for a comprehensive and continuing bibliography of medieval history had grown out of last night's discussion of ways and means of producing a new edition of Paetow's Guide. When computers had proved to be no panacea for the production of a selective and annotated guide, which continues its painstaking progress in human hands, the thoughts of some discussants had turned to related problems, and from this line of inquiry arose the suggestion that an annual index of articles and books on medieval subjects would provide a modicum of control over the avalanche of medieval publications [i.e. The International Medieval Bibliography]. Since similar plans were under consideration by the Mediaeval Academy and by various West Coast medievalists, the present Midwestern enthusiasts wished to explore the possibility of a coordinated national, or even international, effort before making a definite proposal. It was hoped that the conference might play a role in such a cooperative effort, but rather than appoint a formal committee, the president asked Professor Pegues to establish liaison on behalf of the conference with the several bibliographical projects currently under discussion and to report next year on the progress of those deliberations.
Cheered by these millenarian prospects, President Powell then urged the group to consider possibilities for inter-institutional cooperation, such as sharing staff and library resources on a regional basis, and he invited those familiar with such matters to share their experience with the group. Professor Ronald Dean Ware of the University of Massachusetts, on being pressed for a testimonial, confessed that he did a little moonlighting at a nearby ladies' seminary. More informative was the statement of Professor A. L. Gabriel, who noted that the Mediaeval Institute of the University of Notre Dame has an exchange program with the Ecole des Chartes, and he obligingly added further details about the extensive facilities for medieval studies at South Bend. President Powell himself contributed the suggestion that a multivolume, English-language guide, or rather introduction, to medieval studies in the best Handbuch tradition would be a worthy object of collaboration. On this ambitious note the meeting was adjourned after several announcements of a social nature.
Note that the conference program inserts the word "History." Note also the problem that Jim Powell mentions in his letter -- of a shortage of medievalists!