2015 GMS student essay prize-winner, Laura Kalas Williams (Exeter) has reported on her progress since winning the GMS student essay prize, awarded to her at the Gender and Emotions conference at the University of Hull in January of 2016. Laura’s essay has since been published in the SMFS journal, Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal for Gender and Sexuality, and she successfully negotiated her viva in September of this year (for which, many congratulations to Laura!). She is now co-editing a collection of essays based on the successful 2016 conference with Daisy Black and Amy M. Morgan, entitled: Gender and Emotion in Medieval Culture: Uses, Representations, Audiences. In her report, appearing as a blog entry on Exeter University’s Centre for Medieval Studies blog (http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/medievalstudies/2016/10/gender-emotion-and-a-prize-winning-conference/), Laura underlines the importance of the annual GMS conference for encouraging and supporting both PhD students and early career academics, as well as emphasising its collegiate inclusivity and welcome of diverse approaches to the Middle Ages. You can access Laura’s blog-post here.
On October 6th, the Guardian newspaper ran a follow-up headline article on academic harassment, this time linking its prevalence to the Savile scandal and those besetting the Catholic church in recent times. It certainly did not make for pleasant reading (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/07/scale-of-sexual-abuse-in-uk-universities-likened-to-savile-and-catholic-scandals).
See also, the follow-up online contribution from the following day, ‘Accounts of sexual harassment in UK universities’ (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/07/i-was-so-traumatised-accounts-of-sexual-harassment-in-uk-universities), documenting the accounts of more than 100 women contacted by Guardian investigative journalists, Sally Weale and David Batty. It’s good to know that the Guardian is on to this in a big way and that the type of lobbying we have been trying to undertake on this pernicious issue in recently years may now begin to reach a far wider concerned public.
The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship is committed to combating such harassment and part of its initiative is accruing resources to help inform and assist anybody concerned with harassment in academic contexts. So, do please keep sending in information, reports and strategies for the Society to collate and add to its resources page.
For those of us deeply concerned about the proliferation of sexual harassment and microagressions within academic contexts, it is gratifying to see the UK-base Guardian newspaper carrying a report of this as its headline article on Friday, August 26, 2016 (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/aug/26/sexual-harassment-of-students-by-university-staff-hidden-by-non-disclosure-agreements).
Admittedly, it is a pity that the report was semi buried at the end of August and just before a national bank holiday, but what it has to say on this growing concern is most welcome. Also useful are the links included in the article, especially a link to the recently formed 1752 Group, a lobbying group convened by four former students of Goldsmiths University, London, to help combat sexual harassment within academia at all levels. The Group’s website also contains a very useful set of resources, providing information and strategies about dealing with academic harassment.