August 11

Statement from the Program in Medieval Studies Concerning the Events of August 11-12

The Program in Medieval Studies at the University of Virginia emphatically decries the infiltration and violation of our community last weekend by white supremacist organizations. The University of Virginia’s community of scholars in Medieval Studies is diverse and committed to diversity, emphasizing inclusion in our work, our classrooms, our Grounds, and our country.  

Our vision of the medieval world is a global one. We welcome all to join us because difference constitutes our strength.

Medieval Studies is by its very nature an interdisciplinary field made up of specialists who study the arts, cultural history, languages and literatures, as well as eastern and western religious traditions. Cultural comparisons enable us to define and value difference. A careful examination of the historical factors that contextually clarify a cultural moment in which action and art are materialized invariably requires identification of the contributions of all agents or actors, and at times the resurrection of the stories of forgotten or persecuted participants.

As scholars of the Middle Ages we denounce the cooption, manipulation and misrepresentation of the pre-Modern past in the service of hate. In our research and in our teaching we seek to explore the medieval past in its full complexity and in its full plurality. This means not only countering false and pernicious misrepresentations but also recognizing and speaking to the histories of intolerance and oppression in the pre-modern period.

Our university and town have become a focal point in this struggle for American freedom. We in Medieval Studies commit to advocating for all members of our community and student body, and to making the University a place of tolerance and a site of resistance to intolerance of all kinds. We can and will work together to ensure that the hate speech of the white supremacists, KKK, and neo-Nazi or neo-fascist organizations that violated our institution finds no home here. 

We will take this violation as a catalyst for transformation. Medieval Studies pledges to do what public education was created to do: to engage us all as a community to reflect upon what is at stake in our town, state and nation, and to marshal those considerations in the service of the public good.

We remember Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates and Police Pilot Lt. Jay Cullen. May Heather Heyer continue to be named; let her example be one to emulate. We in Medieval Studies stand in solidarity with her and her family, and with all those who oppose hate.