The leadership role that Dr. Kathleen Verduin of the Hope College English faculty played in establishing medievalism as a field of study has received fitting and lasting recognition: a book on the topic has been dedicated to her.
The dedication appears in “Medievalism: Key Critical Terms,” edited by Elizabeth Emery and Richard Ulz and published in the United Kingdom by D.S. Brewer. She was presented with the news and a copy of the book during the 29th International Conference on Medievalism, an event she had co-founded, which was held on Friday-Saturday, Oct. 24-25, at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.
The editors’ introduction praises the pioneering work done by Verduin and her husband, the late Leslie J. Workman, noting, “The field of medievalism studies owes a tremendous debt to Leslie J. Workman and Kathleen Verduin. They worked indefatigably throughout the 1980s and 1990s to foster critical academic interest in ‘medievalism…’”
Medievalism explores representations of the Middle Ages in post-medieval art, architecture, literature, religion, popular culture and scholarship. Workman, who died on April 1, 2001, at age 74, had first identified medievalism as a subject for academic inquiry in the 1970s. His foundational and ongoing contributions were recognized in 1999 with the book “Medievalism in the Modern World: Essays in Honour of Leslie Workman.”
Verduin and Workman began collaborating in promoting the field of medievalism studies in 1981. From 1982 to 1999 she was associate editor of the ongoing series “Studies in Medievalism,” which Workman founded and was first published in 1979.
They co-founded the International Conference on Medievalism in 1986 and organized it for the next 15 years. The conference has been held around the country as well as abroad, and in September 2000 convened at Hope. Verduin has continued to be involved, and gave a plenary address, “The Times of the Appreciation: Dante among the Americans,” during this year’s event.
She and Workman also co-organized a pair of four-week Summer Institutes on Medievalism held at the University of York in the United Kingdom in 1996 and 1998.
Verduin has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1978. She received the college’s “Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching,” today the “Janet L. Andersen Excellence in Teaching Award,” in 2005.
In addition to medievalism, her scholarly fields include American literature of the 17th-19th centuries, reception of Dante, modern fiction, Herman Melville and Stephen King. She edited or co-edited two books published as memorials to departmental colleagues, “True Things: The Writings of H. Dirk Jellema” (1996) and “A. James Prins: A Life in Literature” (with Christopher James Prins, 2007), and has also written numerous articles published in scholarly journals.
Verduin graduated from Hope in 1965. She completed her master’s degree at George Washington University in 1969 and her doctorate at Indiana University in 1980.