Working Group

The Medieval Institute has established a working group to consider changes to the selection process for sessions of the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University. It is expected that the recommendation of the working group will inform the the selection procedure for the 2020 congress.

Working group members

In alphabetical order

  • Jessica A. Boon, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy, Northern Arizona State University
  • Carissa Harris, Temple University
  • Matthew Heintzelman, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library
  • Afrodesia McCannon, New York University
  • Karen Overbey, Tufts University
  • Leah Pope Parker, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • David Porreca, University of Waterloo
  • Ellen Thorington, Ball State University

Letter from the board of the Medieval Institute

Dear members of the ICMS community,

We would like to thank the 47 individuals across the fields of Medieval Studies who indicated their willingness to serve on the Working Group of the International Congress on Medieval Studies. It is an extraordinary group of people who care deeply about the congress and its future. Ultimately our choice of the official members of the working group was a difficult and a carefully considered one.

The director of the Medieval Institute chose to delegate the task of selecting the working group to the Institute's advisory board. This board is made up of six faculty members elected by the affiliated faculty of the Medieval Institute, plus one student member elected by the graduate student organization. All members of the board read all of the nominations to understand and assess each nominee's potential contribution. At this point we decided that a nine-member working group would maximize representation without being too unwieldy to achieve meaningful consensus and results.

A subcommittee drew up three possible slates from among the highest-rated nominations with an eye to creating diversity across many categories: field, type of institution, rank, experience, sponsoring organization(s) with which affiliated, and a variety of categories of personal identity (such as race, gender, sexual identity, neurodiversity, disability). The entire board then considered these slates and rank-ordered them. The slate selected was the first or second choice of every board member and was subsequently approved unanimously by the entire Board..

The Medieval Institute is grateful for this opportunity to make the congress more meaningful to the community it serves. We look forward to working with our colleagues' recommendations to improve the congress’s programmatic diversity in the decades to come.

Board of the Medieval Institute

  • Robert F. Berkhofer IIII (Dept. of History)
  • Elizabeth Bradburn, chair (Dept. of English)
  • Lofton Durham (Dept. of Theatre)
  • Alisa Heskin (Medieval Institute)
  • Rand Johnson (Dept. of World Languages and Literatures)
  • Natalio Ohanna (Dept. of Spanish)
  • Anise Strong (Dept. of History)


  • The working group begins it charge on Monday, Oct. 29, working online using a posed question and discussion format, with that discussion continuing through December.
  • The working group will formulate and refine its recommendation in January, to be submitted by Friday, Feb. 1.