"Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the Age of Globalization"
For the past two days, I've been visiting Seoul's Yonsei University to attend the 2006 MEMESAK International Conference, which I have been attending since 2003, missing only last year due to the flu.
MEMESAK stands for "Medieval and Early Modern English Studies Association of Korea," which was established in 1991 to bring together various scholars in Korea "devoted to medieval English studies," was expanded in 2002 to encompass early Modern English and thereby "widen its membership and area of interest," and was forced by dire circumstances to accept even non-medievalist me as a member in 2003.
Those dire circumstances included the parlous state of the humanities in Korea ... and elsewhere, for that matter.
Medievalists, however, are thinking ahead, becoming proactive some 600 years after the Middle Ages ended, and riding the wave of globalization ... or trying to.
One of those who came surfing in to this conference on "Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the Age of Globalization" was fellow blogger, genuine medievalist, and world-renowned professor Scott Nokes, whose paper, "Medievalists without Borders," suggested ways that scholars working on the Middle Ages might use computer technology and the internet to promote interest in things Medieval, and he noted the way that email, websites, and blogs can open borders and bring together an international community of scholars. Here's what Scott said about the international reach of blogs:
Blogs not only reach over the border between scholarly and professional audiences, but they also reach across international borders. My own blog, Unlocked Wordhoard, for examply, takes the vast majority of its traffic from North America, but has regular visitors from every continent except for Antarctica. Viewers have translated its pages into Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. MEMESAK's own Horace Jeffery Hodges' blog, Gypsy Scholar, receives comments from around the world. Blogs, then, are the place of closest communication between scholars and their audiences, and more and more medievalists are taking advantage of that connection.
I'm flattered that Scott mentioned my blog, for it only occasionally treats Medieval topics, but it does help make his point about the borderlessness of the internet, for my blog has received comments not only from North America and Korea but also from other parts of Asia as well as from Europe, North Africa, and Australia. I don't recall if I've had any comments from South America, but I know that I have readers from there -- as well as from sub-Saharan Africa.
Of course, Scott knows -- and notes -- that blogs are neither intrinsically scholarly nor frequented only by scholars, as befits a borderless medium, but so long as we all recognize this fact, we can use blogs for what they offer, e.g., a space for interactive brainstorming, which is how I often use mine.
Occasionally, bloggers such as Scott and I find ourselves targeted by the slings and arrows of outraged readers, but we just send them over to Strongbad to teach them a real lesson.