A Target of the Alt-Right, Vassar Medievalist Dr. Dorothy Kim to Speak at English Symposium

Dorothy Kim

Robert Van der Werken, ‘18

 Last August in Charlottesville, Virginia, crew-cut white men donning medieval apparel with shield and sigil entered Emancipation Park. These were no harmless role-players but white supremacists who gathered for a Unite the Right rally to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

In their choice of costume, the demonstrators fashioned themselves as the displaced progeny of both southern gentlemen and feudal lords, blue bloods who built their fiefdoms on the backs of slaves and serfs alike. They root their racist views in an idealized medieval past that scholars of the medieval period dismiss as completely imaginary. 

Events like this one have made the misappropriation of medieval iconography by the emergent alt-right the subject of heated debate in medievalist circles.

The English Department welcomes one of the central figures in this debate, Dr. Dorothy Kim, as this year’s Visiting Scholar.  Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College, specializing in medieval literature, Dr. Kim has argued that the current political context places new responsibilities on medieval literature scholars.

“The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/Nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students,” says Dr. Kim. “Today, medievalists have to understand that the public and our students will see us as potential white supremacists or white supremacist sympathizers because we are medievalists.” 

In an open letter addressed to fellow medievalists, entitled “Teaching Medieval Studies in a Time of White Supremacy,” Dr. Kim emphasizes the importance of political commitment and action: “What are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers. So, are you going to be apathetic weapons dealers not caring how your material and tools will be used? Do you care who your buyers are in the classroom? Choose a side.”

Dr. Kim’s call for political commitment has drawn fire from within and without academe.  Dr. Rachel Fulton Brown, Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago and a fellow medievalist, publicly disagreed with Dr. Kim on how to combat white supremacists: “[They] are making arguments bringing back a particular vision of Europe, they’re bringing back a fantasy that is their own making [that is] instantly punctured if you actually study the history of the Middle Ages.” 

Dr. Fulton Brown therefore advocates for a position of political neutrality, indicating that overt intervention merely complicates the matter: “We are creating a fear that is unnecessary,” she claims. Yet it is this neutral stance that Dr. Kim so vehemently protests: “Doing nothing is choosing a side. Denial is choosing a side. Using the racist dog whistle of ‘we must listen to both sides’ is choosing a side.”  

The ongoing back-and-forth between Dr. Kim and Dr. Fulton Brown soon expanded into an internet sensation.  Dr. Kim criticized the latter for her contributions to Breitbart and articles such as “Three Cheers for White Men,” and Dr. Fulton Brown responded with blog posts titled “Why Dorothy Kim Hates Me.”  Dr. Fulton Brown also enlisted the help of notorious right-wing personality and former Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who wrote an article praising Dr. Fulton Brown and belittling Dr. Kim on his website, sparking a slew of inflammatory remarks and threats aimed at Dr. Kim from his supporters. 

In response to these attacks, Dr. Kim has received an outpouring of academic support from the medievalist community.  Dr. David Perry, a medievalist and Associate Professor of History at Dominican University, writes, “Dr. Kim is a brilliant scholar and one of the foremost leaders in ongoing efforts to confront both the shameful legacy of racism in medieval studies and the current appropriation of medieval symbols and stories by modern-day white supremacists… Dr. Kim has been urging medieval scholars to confront this head on. Our profession is better for it.”

Saint Rose’s very own medieval scholar and Associate Professor of English, Dr. Kathryn Laity, shares a similar sentiment. “I admire Dr. Kim for her stellar scholarship and for her good humour despite constant attacks from both outside and within the academy,” she said.  “I am scandalized by the attempts of neo-Nazi groups to vilify Dr. Kim and other scholars who have been instrumental in transforming the field of medieval studies to bring out the wonderful variety of experiences beyond the tired tropes conveyed in a lot of modern popular culture.”

Dr. Kim’s scheduled talk, “Medieval Studies and the Politics of Fascism,” is largely fashioned in response to the protests in Charlottesville: “In August 2017, the alt-right rallied at the University of Virginia,” says Dr. Kim of her talk. “Not only did they murder Heather Heyer, but they did so carrying symbols, dressing up as, and organizing themselves in relation to images…and touchstones imagined as part of the medieval past. This talk will discuss the politics of fascism and the centrality of medieval studies in how the current alt-right frames its cultural and political agenda.”  The presentation will take place at the Carondolet Symposium in the Lally School of Education at 6:30 PM on April 25.



English Major Mikayla Consalvo

What can you do with a degree in English?

Mikayla Consalvo, English major, ’12:

Mikayla started at Saint Rose unsure of her major, but certain she wanted to improve the lives of children. An internship at the New York State Assembly sparked her interest in changing the juvenile justice system, so she began thinking of a career in law. Mikayla majored in English and had three minors, she swept the College’s top awards in English, writing, and gender studies. Now, Mikayla is a the New York University Law School, where she was awarded a full-tuition scholarship.

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Saint Rose Students’ Winter Performance & Upcoming Spring Production

Saint Rose students’ performance of Farndale Avenue A Christmas Carol drew enthusiastic audiences to the Campus Theater last November. The comedy is loosely based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but with a difference. As cast member Conor Walsh put it, “Take everything you know about A Christmas Carol, throw it into traffic, and then run over it a few times.”

Five talented Saint Rose students each played multiple quirky characters in the production, which included singing, many interruptions, and fourth-wall-breaking, entertaining cast/audience interaction, eliciting much laughter from the audience. As cast member Aileen Burke said, the comedy concerns a “well-meaning theatre troupe [that] tries to put on A Christmas Carol [and hits] a few hundred bumps along the way due to personality conflicts and lack of resources.” The small cast of student actors—also featuring Carly Gill, Melissa Narusky, and Brianna Parrella—worked under the direction of Professor Angela Ryan from September through opening night.  The production showcased their commitment to character development and natural talent.

Farndale crew

Look for more talent from fellow Saint Rose students in the upcoming Spring production of Christopher Durang’s Tony Award-winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The motifs, the setting, and even the character names in the play are derived from the work of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. The play, set on a cherry orchard in Pennsylvania, centers on three siblings who commiserate, reminisce, and argue with one another when one of the sisters makes a major announcement and threatens to sell their childhood home. The show runs April 19-22 in the Campus Theatre. Tickets will be available at the door.

English alum talks about her experience at Saint Rose!

English alum Mikayla Consalvo ’12, who later went on to law school at NYU, discusses her experience as a student at Saint Rose! Check it out in the video below.

After 28 Years, Professor of English and Drama Dr. Ken Krauss to Retire

By Meghan Kelley, ’18

Since 1990, Dr. Ken Krauss has been a familiar face in the Saint Rose English Department. However, that time is soon coming to an end. At the end of the spring semester, Dr. Krauss will be retiring after teaching for 28 years at Saint Rose.

A professor of English and Drama, Dr. Krauss spent his years inspiring students of all majors. His wit and sarcasm were as much an essential part of his classes as the readings and assignments. Of all the English and Drama classes he taught over the years, he had a few favorites, particularly ENG 577 – a Proust seminar – and ENG 379, Studies in Film. But, Dr. Krauss said, it is hard for him to pick a favorite since he loves all the drama classes he has taught in his years here.

His favorite plays from his years directing the college’s dramas are numerous, including Of­fending the Audience by Peter Handke and Cabaret by Kander and Ebb. His least favorite is easier to pinpoint, due to the limitations of the script as well as the production Vinegar Tom by Caryl Churchil.

“I will always cherish memories of the good times, particularly with my talented students whom I got to watch grow and develop and go on to lives that clearly benefited from their time in theatre here,” Dr. Krauss said.

Dr. Krauss noted that the Saint Rose theater program is unlike any other program in the area. “Ours remains a truly unique program. We do scholarly, literary, and historical work through classes as well as offering wonderful workshop courses in acting and performance, and we also have open casting for any student who wants to participate in a production—unlike any other college in the area.”

As Audrey Couture, one of Krauss’ former students, recalled, “I will be forever be grateful for Dr. Krauss. Had he not believed in me and had he not cast me in the 5 shows I performed in at Saint Rose, I don’t believe my college experience would have been so memorable. My fondest memories of college were the time I spent with Dr. Krauss in the tiny black box theatre.”

Dr. Barbara Ungar, Professor of English, worked with Dr. Krauss for the majority of his years at Saint Rose. “I was always amazed at the quality of production he achieved on a shoestring budget and the performances he elicited out of CSR students,” she said. “He is not only a stellar director, but a wonderful actor, as well as professor, playwright, scholar. He will be impossible to replace.”

In addition to being a great professor and artist, Dr. Krauss is one of the department’s most recognized scholars. His seven books include The Drama of Fallen France: Reading ‘La Comédie sans Tickets’ (SUNY Press, 2004), which looked at plays produced in Paris during the German Occupation. More recently, Male Beauty (SUNY Press, 2014) examined the depiction of masculinity in postwar theatre, film, and physique magazines.

Looking towards the future, Krauss is working on a book about what Giacamo Casanova’s History of My Life has to say on gender and queer issues. “I recently came back from two weeks in Venice, where I retraced [Casanova’s] footsteps and visited many of the places he knew,” Krauss said. The project is a huge undertaking: the twelve volumes of Casanova’s memoir total 1.2 million words.

“Ken is multi-talented—a triple threat, as a scholar, creative writer, and man of the theater,” stated Dr. David Morrow, Chair of the English Department. “Ken is also very funny. I value the insights of his sharp, cynical eye—which I’ve enjoyed spoken, written, and in multimedia format. Ken has very good politics. I admire him, and I’ll miss him.”



Enter to win! The 2018 Senior Writing Award- $300 1st Place Prize

Open to any student, in any major, who graduated in December 2017 or is graduating in May 2018. Professional writers from outside the College of Saint Rose community will judge all entries.

The prize will be given at the Honors Convocation on March 24th at 2:30pm in the Picotte Recital Hall of the Massry Center for the Arts. Deadline for submissions is February 23, 2018 at noon.

*See guidelines below. For more information on submission rules, visit the English Department website (www.strose.edu/English), or contact Dr. Rone Shavers (shaversr@strose.edu).


 Rules for Entries

 Students of any major who graduated in December 2017 or are graduating in May 2018 are eligible for the award. Submit three copies of a portfolio consisting of the following: Three separate pieces of writing, including at least two different genres, altogether totaling a minimum of ten pages–maximum of twenty-five pages. Each portfolio should contain at least two different genres (for example, 1 formal academic paper and 2 short stories; 2 essays and 1 play script; 2 sets of poems and 1 short story; or an essay, a story and a set of poems). Poetry submissions must have a minimum of 2 poems and maximum of 5 poems as one set.

 Submissions must be anonymous. No name should appear on any page of the submissions. Type your name, address, telephone number, and email address on an index card, place the card in an envelope, and seal the envelope. This envelope must be placed, with three copies of your submission, in a large manila envelope. The copies must be arranged as three separate packets, each packet containing your three pieces of writing. Each packet should be bound with a clip or placed in a sturdy binder. One packet from each student will be sent to each of the three judges.

Work completed as a course assignment is appropriate, but it must be retyped so that the instructor’s comments do not appear on the pages. Any work that has been published should not be submitted.

Judges are professional writers from outside the Saint Rose community. Judges use a numerical tally, awarding up to 25 points to each of the three pieces submitted by each student. Judges will be guided by the following criteria:

~Appropriateness of form and mastery of the conventions of the genre

~Maturity of diction, syntax, tone, and style

~Quality of the piece as compared to publications in the genre

Note: Pieces containing errors in syntax, spelling, punctuation, grammar, typing, or other elements of correct, standard English will be disqualified. Proofread carefully!

Due Date: Portfolios must be submitted to the English Department Office in Marcelle Hall (444 Western Avenue) by 12:00 noon, Friday, February 23, 2018. No late entries will be accepted. The Writing Award will be given at the Honors Convocation on March 24, 2018. The award is $300.00. The winner will be notified in advance.

Questions should be directed to Dr. Rone Shavers, shaversr@strose.edu, or 518-485-3787

A copy of the previous year’s winning entry is available for review on request.

Congratulations Danni Epting!

Saint Rose undergraduate English major Danni Epting recently had two of her personal works published in Thought Catalog and Nailed. Danni’s two stories are her very first publications, displaying her genuine, honest, and lightly humorous writing

“7 Amazing Things That Happened After I Logged Off Social Media For Good”, September 27th, 2017, Thought Catalog Online Magazine 

Danni uses her sense of humor for some light comic relief before digging deeper into her reasoning behind disconnecting from social media in the first place—her experience being stalked her freshman year. She talks about how letting go of platforms such as Instagram allowed her to become more in touch with herself. She describes how invigorating it was to disconnect from an ever-growing stage that everyone relies on so heavily for validation and attention from others. She goes on to discuss that now she has a bigger appreciation for the people and things around her, but most importantly—herself. Her personal growth from this experience is an example of the positive outcomes that all of us Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat lovers could benefit from if we were to take a step back from the constant connection to our iPhones and Laptops.

Favorite Quote from Publication: “Each day I get to write and rewrite my own story. I am the sole author, and I don’t have anyone to compete with except myself.”- Danni Epting, “7 Amazing Things That Happened After I Logged Off Social Media For Good”

  “DEATHWISH 057: DANNI”, Editor’s Choice, September 20th, 2017, Nailed Online Magazine

In her second publication, a Deathwish submission in Nailed, “DEATHWISH 057: DANNI” recounts a near death experience wherein she woke up in the hospital with acute alcohol intoxication. She goes on to tell a very raw, yet sincere story of her struggle with an eating disorder that summer. She describes feeling alive in that moment in the hospital bed, but aware that the price that she had to pay for feeling so alive was much too high. Once again, Danni uses her sense of humor to lighten the mood of her challenging recollection on nearing death.

Favorite Quote from Publication: “I wished I could go back to the time in my life when I didn’t know what it was like to feel like anyone other than myself. I wanted to go back to the time before I knew things could go so wrong.”- Danni Epting, “DEATHWISH 057: DANNI”

More about the writer: Danielle Epting 


Danni is a senior undergraduate English major expected to graduate this May of 2018. She originally studied Education, but after taking a Creative Writing class with English Professor Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, she realized how much she loved writing and decided to keep pursuing it by changing her major to English her sophomore year. Her favorite part about being an English major is not having too many tests! She likes that rather than exams and quizzes, students in the English program really get to write more instead.

Danni plans to continue pursuing her passion for writing and hopes to get into an MFA program after graduating from Saint Rose. She appreciates the work of Tobias Wolff and Raymond Carver as inspirational figures in her field. Danni encourages anyone who’s nervous about or afraid to submit their work for publication to “Just do it– you don’t know until you try. And even if you get denied, you just have to keep trying, eventually someone will like it.”

As far as future publications, Danni is working on a few different fictional stories right now, including “Smoke”, “The Diner”, and “Anchovies”. She is super excited about her works being published, as is the English Department. If you haven’t already, definitely check out her stories on Thought Catalog and Nailed via the links below. Congratulations Danni! We look forward to seeing more of your publications in the future!

Check out Danni’s publications here:

Link: https://thoughtcatalog.com/danielle-epting/2017/09/7-amazing-things-that-happened-after-i-logged-off-social-media-for-good/

Link:  https://nailedmagazine.com/editors-choice/deathwish-057-danni/