‘CARA-Europe’ Initial Exploratory Meeting
Minutes of a meeting held on 13 July 2006 in the Headingley Room, Weetwood Hall
(University of Leeds).
? Robert Bjork (Director, ACMRS, Arizona State University, and Chair, CARA
[standing committee on centers and regional associations of the Medieval Academy])
? Melanie Brunner (Bibliographic Editor, International Medieval Bibliography,
Institute of Medieval Studies, University of Leeds)
? Toby Burrows (Digital Services Director, NEER – see below under ‘Lynch’)
? Margaret Clunies Ross (Director, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney)
? Dick de Boer (Wetenschappelijk Directeur, Onderzoekschool Mediëvistiek –
representing the six universities affiliated to this nationally-funded research school:
Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit te Amsterdam, Groningen, Leiden, Radbout
Universiteit Nijmegen, and Utrecht)
? Simon Forde (convenor and moderator of the meeting)
? Michael Harrison (Managing Director, Manuscripti Ltd, Kettering) ? Pam King (Director, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bristol)
? Christian Krötzl (Historiatieteen laitos / History Department, Tampereen Yliopisto /
? Anne Lawrence (Director, Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies, University of
? Andrew Lynch (Member of Board, Network for Early European Research –
representing the universities and scholars affiliated to this nationwide Australian
Research Council-funded network)
? Richard Morris (Director, Institute of Medieval Studies, University of Leeds)
? Lars Boje Mortensen (Team Leader, Nordic Centre for Medieval Studies –
representing the five affiliated institutions: University of Gothenburg, the Finnish
Literature Society & the University of Helsinki, the Centre for Medieval Studies at the
University of Southern Denmark, and the Centre for Medieval Studies at the
University of Bergen)
? Balázs Nagy (Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University –
? Nils Holger Petersen (Director, Centre for the Study of the Cultural Heritage of
Medieval Rituals, Københavns Universitet)
? James Weldon (President, Canadian Society of Medievalists / Société canadienne des
Those not present at the meeting but having presented their views during the Leeds
conference, or earlier in writing:
? Graham Caie (Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of Glasgow)
? Hans-Werner Goetz (Präsident, Mediävistenverband – representing the 950
individual members from, largely, the German-speaking countries of Europe)
? Jacqueline Hamesse (Président, FIDEM / Fédération internationale des Instituts
? Stephanie Hollis (Director, Centre for Medieval and Early Modern European
Studies, University of Auckland)
? Gerhard Jaritz (Institut für Realienkunde, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Krems)
? Raluca Radulescu (Director, Canolfan Astudiaethau Canoloesol / Centre for
Medieval Studies, University of Wales - Bangor)
Apologies for absence:
? Ingrid Bennewitz (Zentrum für Mittelalterstudien, Otto-Friedrich-Universität
? Mario Costambeys (Liverpool Centre for Medieval Studies)
? Clare Downham (School of Languages and Literature, University of Aberdeen)
? Bill Kent (Monash University Prato Centre)
? Linne Mooney (Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York)
? Yolanda Plumley (Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Exeter)
? Sarah Alyn Stacey (Director, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Trinity
? Martina Stercken (Projektstelle Mittelalter, Universität Zürich)
? John Thompson (Head of Department, Queen’s University Belfast)
? Elaine Treharne (President, the English Association)
The meeting opened at 14.00 and the following matters were discussed and agreed:
a. Bob Bjork explained the origins, activities, and aims of the ‘Centers and
Regional Associations (CARA),’ a standing committee of the Medieval
Academy in North America. The purpose of this meeting was to gauge
whether there was interest in Europe for establishing a similar pedagogically-
focused body for European medievalists.
b. Simon Forde outlined his role as facilitator at the start-up of such a possible
organisation in Europe, and stressed that he was doing so independently, but
with the formal approval of the Medieval Academy. He emphasised that the
list of organisations invited had not been in any sense comprehensive, since
this was intended as an exploratory meeting.
c. Michael Harrison volunteered to serve as minute-taker for this meeting.
d. All those present introduced themselves and the organisations that they were
2. Absentees and reports on their views
Simon Forde summarised the oral and written opinions expressed by those (see
list above) who could not be present at the meeting:
a. Graham Caie and Raluca Radulesca both volunteered to help in any capacity
whatsoever, but particularly in the recruiting of members.
b. Stephanie Hollis emphasised the need to cater for institutions in countries
outside Europe (such as New Zealand) who wished to participate in such an
c. Gerhard Jaritz submitted various proposals on financing to ensure maximum,
but equitable and fair, participation from institutions in central and Eastern
d. Hans-Werner Goetz reported that the Board of the Mediävistenverband had
recently met to discuss the present initiative. The Board was largely
supportive, though a few members had expressed some anxiety over the
level of US input. Prof. Goetz explained in full his and the Mediävisten-
verband’s aspirations for the future and hoped that a truly pan-European
body could be formed. He believed that this initiative could play a useful role.
However, he wished the meeting to reflect further on how a grouping of
institutions could be integrated with a largely member-based organisation
such as the Mediävistenverband. Prof. Goetz had also informed his partner
organisation in France, the Société des Historiens Médiévistes de
l'Enseignement Supérieur Public (via Prof. Régine Le Jan), about this
e. Jacqueline Hamesse had circulated a letter in advance of the meeting arguing
that the current initiative had no authority or legitimacy within Europe, and
was duplicating the aims and work of FIDEM. Prof Bjork summarised the
latest discussions that had taken place with Prof. Hamesse since this letter
had been circulated.
A lengthy discussion was held about the possible purposes of a ‘CARA-type’
organisation in Europe. The discussion was launched by outlining three scenarios
that had been raised in the period since November 2005 when the initial
invitation was sent out: (i) the original notion of a CARA-like grouping of
institutions which restricted itself to pedagogical and practical matters, but which
was formally linked to the Medieval Academy; (ii) a committee devoted solely to
pedagogical issues which should apply to serve as a standing committee within
FIDEM; (iii) either of the above, but also with a major focus on encouraging pan-
European research projects and funding applications.
During the discussion the following points were raised:
a. Concerning the purposes of any European network of institutions and
1. Richard Morris emphasised that duplication of effort and the
creation of additional organisations should be avoided wherever
2. Several participants emphasised the pressures of existing academic
bureaucracy and argued that the proposed organisation could only
survive if it delivered clear benefits to the participants.
3. All participants were highly enthusiastic about a body that could
focus on promoting and supporting research, maximising
collaboration and minimising conflicts, and encouraging funding
applications for largescale pan-European projects to the ESF and
other funding bodies. Many participants spoke about the difficulties
in getting the critical mass of institutions necessary to support an ESF
4. There was an overall consensus that any body must be light and
unbureaucratic, of actual practical benefit and essentially voluntary.
5. Several participants argued for a lobbying function, to support
medieval studies at a local (university) or national (ministry) level.
6. Pam King spoke of the benefits of sharing best-practice and
knowledge of digital resources for teaching.
7. A brief discussion was raised about possible membership dues (?40
p.a. had been mentioned) and Bob Bjork explained that the majority
of the equivalent annual dues for CARA in the US was spent on
scholarships or prizes for doctoral students, or on sponsoring
medievalists (students and staff) to attend specialist summer schools
(e.g. in Latin, or codicology). Participants considered this a useful
precedent that could be copied in Europe.
b. Concerning the relationship with FIDEM:
1. Several participants had not heard of FIDEM; others believed that its
remit in effect (even if its constitution stated otherwise) did not cover
pedagogical issues; while other members expressed dissatisfaction
with the scholarly agenda of FIDEM or the benefits that they
perceived from membership.
2. The work of FIDEM in running its MA programme in Rome was
praised. Some speakers suggested that the present network could
help promote this programme.
3. The meeting recognised the strength of contacts that FIDEM had, in
particular, in France, Italy and Iberia which were key countries that
were not represented at this meeting.
4. A number of participants argued that it was essential to avoid
duplication of effort, or to bring about a split amongst medievalists,
perhaps on a North-South basis.
5. Bob Bjork undertook to continue efforts to forge a collaborative way
forward with FIDEM, one that would maximise benefits for
medievalists and avoid any unnecessary splits (see 5.c.2 below).
c. Concerning the relationship with the Mediävistenverband and other bodies
of individual scholars:
1. All speakers were extremely enthusiastic about participation in the
network by the Mediävistenverband.
2. Richard Morris remarked that the International Medieval Congress
had a database of over 10,000 medievalists, and also a body of
Associate Members, which (though much smaller) was comparable
in intent to the Mediävistenverband.
3. Other speakers spoke in favour of welcoming national bodies, even if
they were not fully multidisciplinary – the Société des Historiens
Médiévistes de l'Enseignement Supérieur Public was named, as were
specific bodies for archaeologists and literary scholars. 4. Likewise, several people argued that representatives of European or
global single-disciplinary bodies, particularly where they had
distinct medieval sections (such as ESSE), should be welcomed.
d. Concerning the development of a European medieval network:
1. Dick de Boer volunteered to establish a website, to be hosted by the
Dutch Onderzoekschool, to serve as an information point to
encourage collaboration and non-duplication of effort in research-
2. Prof. De Boer also offered the assistance of the secretary of the
Onderzoekschool Mediëvistiek (Martin de Ruiter) to maintain this
website and to facilitate the development of the current network. 3. Bob Bjork also volunteered the resources of the CARA-Database and
website to facilitate student and staff exchanges and the exchange of
information on the academic programmes of partners. 4. Richard Morris volunteered the resources of the IMC database as a
means of identifying persons and institutions to participate in such a
5. There was widespread enthusiasm and a general consensus that this
group should press ahead and explore further the possibilities of
establishing a truly European medieval network, in association with
the bodies named elsewhere during this meeting. Notwithstanding,
it was essential to gain participation and input at the earliest possible
moment from representatives from medieval organisations in, inter
alia, France, Italy and Spain.
6. The representatives from Canada and Australia spoke strongly of
their need to be closely linked to Europe (for cultural and funding
reasons, inter alia); the Canadian Society of Medievalists in fact had
previously explored membership of CARA in the US but had rejected
this, and would prefer a partnership with a European network. Pam
King mentioned other non-European organisations that might think
likewise. The meeting agreed that the European network should be
open, as appropriate, to organisations outside Europe.
7. The meeting agreed that a representative from CARA in the US
would be welcome to participate fully in the European network.
However, in the prevailing spirit of minimum formality and
bureaucracy, an explicit link to the Medieval Academy might be
4. Organisational principles
It was agreed that it was premature to discuss any formal constitution
(specifically the draft that had been circulated prior to this meeting). Indeed, the
meeting’s preference for a light, unbureaucratic structure argued strongly against
any such formality. Instead, a number of organisational principles were
discussed and the following were approved: a. Representatives on any Steering Committee should be balanced between the
four areas of Europe (for a description of these areas see 5.a below).
b. In the initial years annual meetings would be important; these would take
place on a rotational basis around the four areas. Participants would pay for
their own travel and accommodation costs, so as to minimise costs for the
host. Moreover, to further minimise expense of money and time, as far as
possible these meetings should dovetail with existing major gatherings, such
as the Leeds IMC, the annual meeting of the Mediävistenverband, the five-
yearly FIDEM conference, and so on. In later years it may not be necessary to
c. Key functions in the organisation should be balanced around the four areas.
d. Membership fees should be as low and affordable as possible, to reflect the
light structure of the organisation. There was a short, inconclusive discussion
about appropriate rates for ‘federations of centres’(e.g. national groups),
disciplinary bodies, or societies of individuals (such as the
e. The meeting firmly rejected the idea of certain languages being given official
status. The meeting argued powerfully that an open policy whereby any
languages were valid should be pursued.
f. The meeting agreed that ‘CARA-Europe’ as a working-title was
unsatisfactory for many reasons (the absence of ‘regional associations’ in
Europe; the feeling that a term imported from America was inappropriate;
the recognition that a ‘network’ was the essence of this venture; the
acknowledgement that in Europe the partners would not solely be ‘centres
and institutions’ but societies, national or international groups, and be far
more varied in type than the American model allowed). Some possible names
or acronyms were suggested; this topic would be deferred till further
discussion with bodies such as FIDEM had been conducted.
5. Electing a temporary working-group to take things forward:
a. Recruitment officers for northern, central, southern and eastern Europe were
nominated as follows:
1. North (Britain and Ireland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and the
Baltic States): Christian Krötzl, Lars Boje Mortensen, and Raluca
2. Central (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland): this would be deferred
till further discussions had taken place with the Mediävistenverband.
3. East (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and countries
eastwards): Gerhard Jaritz and Balázs Nagy.
4. South (Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, and Iberia): this would be
deferred till further discussions had taken place with FIDEM. b. Secretary and Website officer for grant applications (including drawing up
lists of possible names for the network, if necessary): Martin de Ruiter.
c. Negotiators with the Mediävistenverband and FIDEM:
1. with the Mediävistenverband: Simon Forde and Bob Bjork.
2. with FIDEM: Bob Bjork, Gábor Klaniczay, Christian Krötzl, and Nils
6. Next meeting(s)
The meeting agreed that a second, exploratory meeting should be held as soon as
possible. Nevertheless, it should allow sufficient time to conclude the necessary,
further discussions with the Mediävistenverband and FIDEM, and the other
a. The offer of Budapest to host a meeting in March 2007 was accepted, the host
organisation being the Central European University (the date and
programme to be confirmed in due course).
b. If, at Budapest or subsequently, it were decided to go ahead and formalise
this network, subsequent annual meetings (see the principles in 4.b above)
would be identified.
The meeting closed at 16.30.
Simon Forde and Bob Bjork
3 August 2006