This article draws on my experience both as a medievalist and as a feminist working in a UK university today to discuss the challenges facing feminist academia more widely. Using Medieval Studies as a case study, this article argues that in times of austerity the pressure on early career feminist academics to conform is greater as it is increasingly important to get one's work published in order to stay competitive. This pressure to publish limits intellectual curiosity and forces research down more conventional paths. This article lays out how this functions in Medieval Studies and attempts to suggest some ways in which it could be overcome. One strategy of resistance I suggest entails what I call an 'ethics of source study'; a way of looking at and responding to both medieval and modern texts with an awareness of their potential effect on the world. I begin by discussing the pressing need to publish work forced upon us by the Research Excellence Framework, and how this drive towards publication can make our work less radical. I then illustrate this with examples from my own discipline. In Medieval Studies, the publication of more articles means that the production of editions is neglected, and this forces scholars to use out-of-date and misogynist editions. Finally, I suggest some ideas of how we can create alternative networks in which feminist academia can survive and flourish, including an outline of what an ethics of source study might look like.
- research excellence framework