Statement on Medieval English seminar series

On Saturday 10 October, an invitation was sent to subscribers to the medieval English seminar series in the Faculty. This series hosts papers and discussion on new research in medieval studies from within and beyond Oxford. In a reply to the invitation, mistakenly shared with the rest of the list, a retired member of the Faculty wrote a message that was derogatory and offensive to several of this term’s speakers. As a Faculty, we vehemently condemn these comments. They attack our strong commitment to excellent scholarship of all kinds, and our unequivocal opposition to discrimination of any sort. In doing so, they undermine all of us. The seminar organizers took immediate action in repudiating the comments, and removing their writer from the seminar group. In addition, the English Faculty is considering any other formal steps that it can take.

This incident has caused understandable offence to many, for which the English Faculty is very sorry. We are determined to continue our efforts to encourage and support excellent scholarship of all kinds, and from many different perspectives. This term’s medieval seminars include papers on, for example, women’s literary culture; Victorian medieval women scholars; the colonial history of medieval manuscripts; and queer/Lesbian philology, alongside a number of other approaches to the field. We celebrate this work and we look forward to welcoming our speakers, who represent the present and future of scholarly enquiry.

Prof. Ros Ballaster (Chair of the English Faculty Board)
Dr Francis Leneghan (Co-director, Oxford Medieval Studies)
Profs Vincent Gillespie, Andy Orchard and Daniel Wakelin (Convenors, Medieval English Research Seminar)
Dr Nicholas Perkins (Chair, English Faculty Equality and Diversity Committee)