A Message from the Director, June 2020

Published: June 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

On June 8, 2020, CMRS released a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. In it, we also reaffirmed our commitment to systemic and programmatic changes which we started to bring forward this year, first through our new five-year Research Axes plan and in new programming such as the CMRS symposium on “Early History of Africa: New Narratives for a History of Connections and Brokers” which we held last January. Additionally:

Systemic changes require systemic thinking.

In this final news blast of the AY 2019-2020, I am happy to invite you to listen to the audio archive from the “Early History of Africa” Symposium that features three of our junior UC colleagues, Lamia Balafrej (Art History, UCLA), Jody Benjamin (History, UC Riverside), and Hollian Wint (History, UCLA). The future of medieval and early-modern research has already arrived. You will also find my introductory remarks to the Symposium, a part of my vision statement for CMRS.

Protecting the other component of the future of our research fields, CMRS stepped up its efforts to support graduate students in the ongoing health and UC funding crisis. By redirecting funds from spring CMRS events cancelled due to the coronavirus, we were able to provide in part summer research fellowships and support for twenty graduate students.

For this summer, we proposed a CMRS Faculty-Graduate Student Reading Group. This is a venue where we can actively engage with new methodologies and new scholarship. For the Fall and Winter, you will find here a call for presenters for CMRS Works-In-Progress Happy Hours, an informal space to share work and debate what matters to our fields.

We also feature video footage of Renaissance dances based on the Decameron from Professor Emerita Emma Lewis Thomas (World Arts & Cultures/Dance). As part of our efforts toward inclusivity at CMRS, dance and the performing arts are another example of diverse areas of research with which we can seek to renew our connections as we build partnerships and alliances across campus and the UC system. These recordings also remind us how arts can comfort us in the gravest of situations.

The Center appreciates the past support from our contributors and needs it now even more with funding cuts on the horizon at this pivotal juncture. Your contributions directly fund individual student’s studies and engaging public lectures. Please donate what you can.

As ever, I invite you to reach out to me at zs@humnet.ucla.edu. I hope that you will join us as we build a new habitus across disciplines on campus and all over the globe.

Wishing you a safe and restorative summertime,

Zrinka Stahuljak
Director, Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies