The Corner

Culture

One Gutsy Medievalist

Rachel Fulton Brown

In my column the other day, I mentioned an article by Peter Wood, the president of the National Association of Scholars. He was defending a professor against what he called a “smear.” That professor is Rachel Fulton Brown, a medievalist at the University of Chicago. And she is my guest on my latest Q&A.

What has a medieval historian at one of our most prestigious universities done to excite controversy? In a nutshell, Fulton Brown has offended the usual suspects. I gather they would rather shut her up than argue with her. (I don’t see Professor Fulton Brown losing many arguments.)

In our podcast, we talk about her education: What attracted her to the Middle Ages? What are the Middle Ages, for that matter? When are they, what are they in between? Also, how do you pronounce “medieval”? There are a number of pronunciations, floating around on tongues.

How do you pronounce “Tolkien,” too? Fulton Brown knows a lot about The Lord of the Rings, and she teaches a class on the subject. In our podcast, she gives us a taste of it. We also talk about music and other things . . .

. . . before getting to Controversy. Rachel Fulton Brown is obviously an independent-minded woman. She is also cheerful, a happy warrior, through it all. (She explains why.) Moreover, she is a fencer — and knows the value of being sharp, precise, and prepared. She is just the sort of person who ought to be in academia, I think, and I regard her students as lucky. I bet they do, too.

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