Category Archives: Features

TOEBI Statement on Leicester University job cuts

TOEBI wishes to acknowledge its support for the position of staff in English at the University of Leicester, and to condemn the injurious position of the university management’s approach to the study of Medieval and Early Modern Literature and English Language.

The leadership of the University of Leicester has notified staff that it is opening a consultation on a plan to close English Language, including the BA English with English Language and the MA English Language and Linguistics, and to cease teaching Medieval Literature and reduce the size of Early Modern Literature. The first consultation meeting on this plan will take place on Wednesday 27th January 2021. Staff in English remain committed to supporting and developing our current curriculum and oppose this plan. 

TOEBI exists to promote and support the teaching of Old English in British and Irish Universities, believing that knowledge of the foundations of the subject is integral to any understanding of English language and literature. At a time when medieval studies in particular is frequently in the public eye, it is a fundamental disservice to students and prospective students at the University of Leicester to deny them the opportunity to pursue study in this field.

TOEBI statement on racism and Black Lives Matter

TOEBI believes that Black lives matter. The society recognises the many failures, present and historic, to support and listen to Black academics, both in academia generally and within our own field specifically, and that these failures contribute to a larger system of oppression against Black people. As a society, our aim is to promote the teaching of Old English in universities, and we commit to fostering an environment supportive of Black scholars, scholars of colour, and scholars from other ethnically marginalised backgrounds, including Irish Travellers. At this year’s TOEBI meeting, we will formally designate a session on work in anti-racism, participation and outreach. Speakers will be invited to present on relevant projects, issues and initiatives. In the future, we will do more to amplify diverse voices and the work of BIPOC scholars, and we particularly welcome their submissions to our annual newsletter.

Our society is also committed to raising the public profile of our field. On both ethical and intellectual grounds, we strongly reject the misuse and appropriation of medieval texts and symbolism for the creation of racist and xenophobic narratives.

We have work to do. Scholars privileged by race and by other characteristics have an obligation to learn more, and to support marginalised colleagues and students. The 2017 bibliography on race and medieval studies crowdsourced by Jonathan Hsy and Julie Orlemanski provides a valuable starting point: For further resources on anti-racism, see this project page from Dr. Cooke at the University of South Carolina: .

You can find a broader statement of TOEBI’s values and our anti-harassment policy here.

TOEBI panel for English: Shared Futures 2020

Old English Futures

TOEBI (Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland) Call for Papers, for English: Shared Futures 2020 conference, Manchester/Salford June 26-28th 2020 @EngSharedFuture

TOEBI invites submissions for a panel to be submitted to the English: Shared Futures 2020 conference on the future of Old English studies within and beyond global English literary studies.

We particularly welcome submissions that show how the teaching of Old English naturally engages with issues such as ecology and ecocriticism, transnational literatures, literatures of the body, anachronic and transhistorical readings of literature, issues of migration and ethnicity, and inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches to the past and present.

E:SF indicates that approaches may cover:

  • new research from any area of the discipline, including practice-based research;
  • learning, teaching and pedagogy;
  • aspects of professionalization (including precarity, mental health, employability, recruitment, gender and BAME imbalance).

Areas of Old English studies which may be particularly relevant to the themes of E:SF 2020 include:

  • inequalities: working-class literature, language and creative writing; regional differences; access to literature and social capital;
  • literature, language, creativity and music;
  • ‘applied’ English: how English language, literature and creative writing work in the world beyond universities and address local, national and global challenges;
  • refugees and displacement;
  • translation;
  • publishing and book history;
  • issues around decolonization, broadly understood, including decolonizing the profession and curriculum;
  • migrancy and borders.

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to for 20-minute papers by Friday 13th September 2019.

Letter of Recommendation: Old English

By Josephine Livingstone (The New York Times Magazine, 04-01-2019)

I went to college a little bit later than most. Excited but nervous to plunge into a degree — in English literature — that demands all students learn Old English, I asked a friend what studying the language was like. “It sounds bizarre,” Roberta said, “but it’s what people spoke in Britain in the early medieval period. And there are these beautiful things called kennings in the poetry.” We were just in the pub, I think, but I got this feeling. Something like stars in my eyes, but more like starlight dancing on a deep, dark sea.

… read more here: