Lost classics, poor taste

December 16, 2010

Your article "With a scholar of German studies under siege, medievalists mobilise" (2 December) does much to expose the murky goings-on at the University of Bristol's Faculty of Arts.

The tactic of employing a new professor who is willing to axe long-standing, reputed and conscientious colleagues - and with them their areas of expertise - is not new. In the 1990s, for example, it was applied disastrously at the University of Aberdeen's German department. Bristol now apparently plans to apply the same tactic to Hispanic studies. Would this really save money, given today's professorial salaries? It would certainly damage prestige and affect recruitment.

Any German department that does not offer such classics of world literature as Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, Gottfried von Strassburg's Tristan und Isolde and the Nibelungenlied is scarcely worth its salt.

Cyril Edwards, Senior research Fellow Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford.

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