This kind of thing is always tricky. It's a small department; and enrolments in medieval literature will never be enormous. But there are certainly ways to integrate medieval literature into the curriculum. The School has particular research strengths in C19 and C20, and in regional literature and colonial and post-colonial studies, and wants to focus its undergraduate teaching in that area. (Oh, but an exception is made for Shakespeare, which just seems weird to me.) All the more reason, then, to give students the historical depth that medieval studies offers.
I've just written to the vice-chancellor at UTas. In part, my letter read:
Contemporary medieval studies is a cutting-edge field that readily engages not only with its traditional interdisciplinary partners — historical studies, art history, architecture, music, etc. — but also with a wide range of sophisticated theoretical approaches to literature and cultural studies. Moreover, medieval studies is an exemplary way to study the literature of the past, of cultures and societies other than our own, especially through dialogue with the field of medievalism, the study of various attempts to revive, re-create and re-work medieval culture in contemporary literature, film, and in other cultural forms.It felt a bit odd to be writing, given that my own Faculty is grappling with forced redundancies of our own, though there is a growing tide of resistance to this next stage. Anyway, if you are reading this with concern, and would like to know more, and perhaps write your own letter, I suggest getting in contact with Jenna directly, or leaving a comment here in support of medieval literature.
Professor _____ remarks that medieval literature is not taught in many Australian universities. All the more reason, then, to preserve it in the syllabus at Tasmania, where it is well supported by the team of excellent medievalists in the School of History and Classics. English departments, even small ones, have an obligation to give students the widest possible exposure to the many traditions of English literature, not just those relevant to the School’s research strengths. Professor _____ comments that Medieval Literature is a specialized subject that “cannot be readily integrated into a reinvigorated and restructured English programme”. Permit me to register my most profound disagreement with this statement: the teaching of Middle English language skills may well be specialised, but there is no reason why medieval literature and medievalist literature and film cannot be fully integrated into a lively curriculum, as is seen in other universities in Australia and internationally.