Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Hug Your Medievalist

I am happy to report, beloved readers, that I had a wonderful International Hug-a-Medievalist Day on March 31 this year.  I received all sorts of hugs, from the virtual to awkward to the snuggly.  There were, alas, a few doubters around me who thought I was making up the whole thing in some kind of sad cry for affection, and I was forced to forward electronic evidence as to this holiday's existence to these barbarians, but overall it was a very successful day.

Nevertheless, my colleague at another institution, Brian, pointed out that he cannot expect hugs from his students because his institution deeply discourages touching of any kind between professor and student.  And that Brian, he has a point.  I should have noted that I do not ask, beg, encourage or imply that my students should hug me on International Hug-a-Medievalist Day.  Yet, well, some of them do it anyway, and were I to refuse, it would shatter their precious hearts.  Moreover, there is the whole question of hugs from administrators and pottery instructors and British people and others who find the impulse to wrap one's arms around someone uncomfortable or even downright suspicious.

So I have created this table, my dears, to explain how and when to hug your local medievalist.  It is my hope that using these simple guidelines, you will be able to avoid awkwardness or inadvertent charges of sexual harassment next March 31.

How to Hug Your Local Medievalist:  A Helpful Table for the Uninformed

You are a:
May you hug your local medievalist?
Family member
Damned right!
With love and affection
You owe your local medievalist money
Close friend
Not only may, but must
Briefly, but fully
You have not bathed today
Casual friend
You may
While making an awkward joke
You have issues
Fellow medievalist
While making a joke in an archaic language
You are an art historian
Only if you are completely comfortable doing so (and not drunk)
Virtual hug preferred; side-hug, Duggar-style, may be acceptable
You cannot spell medievalist
You may
In public, so that no one gets the wrong idea
You are that creepy guy
Dean, provost or others of that ilk
Only with care, discretion and fake cheerfulness
Side-hug, preferably while holding a mug of coffee
You are about to assign the medievalist to the Committee from Hell
Former student
There’s no law against it
You gave him/her a bad rating on the Site That Shall Not Be Named
If your uncle’s father was an ally to the medievalist’s grandfather…yes
You sometimes forget to let go of other people’s body parts
You may.  But you won’t.
With claws in and a long-suffering look
You are a cat.


  1. Duggar style. Yes!

  2. Just doing my part to make us a more civil society.

  3. What about British medievalists?

  4. Ah, I should have had an entry for British medievalists. They, of course, may hug, but only after at least half a pint.

  5. Nat - I TOTALLY got a full on frontal hug from my Dean today (ex military Southern Historian) - best dean ever! Brian

  6. Why are art historians unwelcome?