Unisa Medieval Association

By Ryan Evans,2014-06-01 03:30
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Unisa Medieval Association

Unisa Medieval Association

    Unisa Middeleeuse Vereniging


    At the Annual General Meeting of the Unisa Medieval Association, held on Tuesday 13 March, the decision was taken to terminate the activities of the association and disband it.

    The Association has had a long and successful life. Founded in 1981 to promote Medieval (and later Renaissance) studies at Unisa, it was the University’s first inter-

    disciplinary association. It has over the years attracted a large membership and held regular monthly seminars and other meetings and a succession of conferences, a number of the latter being international conferences co-hosted at Unisa with the Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and attracting participants from overseas. With the support of Unisa Press we have published the proceedings of these conferences in Unisa Medieval Studies and other peer-reviewed volumes. Many of the papers thus

    published later found their way into accredited academic journals.

    The decision to disband the Association was difficult to make. It still continues to attract on average between 20 and 30 members to its meetings with 26 attending the Annual General Meeting on 13 March. But the sad fact is that it has increasingly had to rely for its membership on people who are not Unisa staff members. Only four members at the Annual General Meeting work at Unisa and of these two, Professor Leonie Viljoen retires this year while Professor John Lambert will be retiring next year. It has become extremely difficult over the last few years to find staff members who are able to dedicate time to membership of the committee.

    As the non-Unisa members are staunch supporters of the Association, we discussed various possibilities at the Annual General Meeting for continuing its activities; however, the following barriers remained:

    ; The Association’s initial objectives of serving the research and teaching

    interests of its academic members could no longer be met.

    ; The process of transformation and the movement away from Eurocentrism

    had led to the decline of Medieval Studies in virtually all academic

    departments with a concomitant decline in expertise and resources.

    ; Academic attendance had dwindled, as evidenced by the presence of only four

    Unisa staff members.

    ; Administrative pressures on academics were causing even departmental staff

    seminar attendance to decrease.

    ; Without staff support it would no longer be possible to link the Association

    for administrative and financial purposes to a department (to date English

    Studies has provided such support).

    After lengthy discussion, it was decided unanimously, but with regret and sadness, that the Association could no longer continue and that its activities would be terminated. Professors Viljoen and Lambert, who have been acting as ex-officio members of the committee, and the Treasurer, Dr Mitzi Andersen, were mandated to wind up the affairs of the Association.

    The Association would like to thank the Principal and the Executive Dean of the College of Human Sciences and their predecessors for the support which it has received from both offices. Particularly in the early days of the Association’s existence, their encouragement

    and financial support did much to ensure its success. We also wish to acknowledge those academic departments and individuals who supported the Association through the years. At the same time, we believe that by its activities, and particularly through its national and international conferences and the resulting published proceedings, the Association contributed to Unisa’s reputation for research excellence.

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