Dr. Diane Cady, associate professor of English and devoted medievalist, has been promoted to chair of the English department. The previous chair, Cynthia Scheinberg, has been named dean of Graduate Literary Studies.
Cady, a first-generation college student who received her Ph.D in English from Cornell University, said in an interview that she became a medievalist in part because of the misconceptions and stereotypical imagery people have when they think about the Middle Ages, and how those notions flood today’s cultural imaginary.
“I became very interested in how people got their perceptions about the Middle Ages and how we use the Middle Ages in the modern age as a way to mitigate our own anxieties about what’s happening in our current moment,” Cady said. “It’s less invested in dividing different kinds of realms like politics, race, gender and sexuality — all of those things sort of promiscuously co-mingle in the Middle Ages, which I find interesting.”
As the new chair of the English department, Cady hopes to facilitate more professional development for undergraduate English majors through constant curricular development by offering a variety of English courses and pointing students in the best direction of the many opportunities available to them. Other goals Cady has for the English department include student readings for undergraduate English majors to showcase their works-in-progress as well as more classroom interaction between the undergraduate and graduate English students.
Cady hopes to tie the English department’s larger objectives to what those in the Mills community want from its English courses.
“I envision, in terms of literary studies, engagement with literature as a kind of lens for seeing the world and engaging with history and culture,” Cady said. “I’m very hopeful that my colleagues and students will come to me and say, ‘These are the things that we think are really useful, the kinds of things we’re interested in and the questions we want to ask.’”