The large number of professors specializing in the Middle Ages expected to retire in the next few years may create serious gaps in the University's Medieval Studies offerings, members of the Faculty said yesterday.
"Medieval studies is suffering a terrible loss," Morton W. Bloomfield, Porter Professor of English and chairman of the Committee on Medieval Studies, said yesterday. Several graduate students have recently called attention to the lack of a professor of Old Norse.
Specialists in medieval studies from the Departments of History, Fine Arts, Sociology and several European languages are now approaching the age of 66, when they must choose between teaching a half-load of courses for four years, or a full-load for two years.
Bloomfield, who turned 66 this year, said these departments have not adequately prepared for the loss by appointing younger professors interested in the field.
Don't Blame The Dean
The problem "is not all the Dean's fault," Bloomfield said, because departments tend to select professors in areas that are "more immediately glamorous," and may attract more students. However, "the administration has not been thoughtful in making sure the needed appointments are made," he added.
Herbert Bloch, Pope Professor of the Latin Language and Literature, said yesterday there is "a real crisis" in Medieval Studies, but he "is convinced the administration is not at all hostile to the Middle Ages."
Bloch added, however, he "knows of no provision" by the department for continuing the teaching of medieval Latin when he retires in four years.
Samuel E. Thorne, Fairchild Professor of Legal History, who will retire this year, said yesterday his department "is not doing much" to find a replacement in the area of medieval legal history, attributing the omission to lack of money and "departmental politics."
Dorrit Cohn, acting chairman of the department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and Donald A. Stone, chairman of the department of Romance Languages and Literatures, said yesterday they have found replacement for the assistant professors currently teaching Old French and Old German who will leave at the end of this year.
George C. Homans '32, professor of Sociology, who has also reached the retirement age of 66, said the shortage arose because the number of graduate students in medieval studies has declined but "the undergraduates are just as interested.