Congratulations – and thanks! – to Therese Cory, who has agreed to serve as the president (elect) of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, taking over from Tamar Rudavsky. Thanks as well to John Inglis and Sayeh Meisami, who have joined the executive committee. [Subsequently added clarification: although Therese was just elected as president-elect, that makes her vice president for the next few years, and marks the start of Tamar’s term as president. So our most proximate thanks should probably go to Tamar!]
I learned this information from an email sent out to members, announcing the news and inviting members to complete a brief survey about what role the SMRP should play in the future. In completing the survey, I discovered that I have rather strong feelings on the subject, which in a rabble-rousing spirit I thought that I would share here. (I won’t, however, share the link to the survey, since it may be that the folk organizing the survey would like it to be limited to SMRP members.)
It seems to me that there is one overriding thing the SMRP ought to begin doing, which it has not done in the past, and that this is to organize its own conference. Currently, the SMRP hosts sessions at the APA and sometimes other conferences, but these sessions are often poorly attended, and do a poor job bringing together the medieval community. The sessions, by themselves, are not enough to tempt medievalists to come to an APA (unless they have other reasons to attend), and because they are typically scheduled in the evening, in depressing hotel conference rooms, attendance typically feels more like a duty than a pleasure.
There is, however, very little else out there by way of general medieval philosophy conferences in North America. Cornell and UCLA and Toronto all put on regular events, which tend to be by invitation only, and there are a few more specialized things, but the field badly needs an annual flagship conference that would bring the community together. Such a conference might rotate around North America on an annual basis, organized by different institutions, year by year, always with the financial and institutional support, and prestige, of the SMRP.
Some of you will recognize that I write this with the thought in mind of the conference that just concluded here in Boulder. Despite my advertising the event essentially not at all, 70-some medievalists came together for 3 days of non-stop medieval philosophy in Boulder. The success of the event speaks to the need for more such occasions.