This is the scene in our dining room in Durham at the moment. The change that was on the cards for many months has suddenly become reality – but however expected it was, that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m talking about relocating the two of us to Odense for the rest of my contract at the University of Southern Denmark. Being on the cusp of this move means that recent events in the UK have, so to speak, a certain edge. There are question marks about returning here in future: will I be able to bring my wife with me? There is disquiet, too, about what will happen to higher education in general and the humanities in particular: I spoke a few days ago to a colleague who believes there is no future for his field in this country…
Much the same, then, as a lot of the doom and gloom circulating in the virtual world at the moment. Yet I find myself remarkably pragmatic. Why? Because that image in the dining room, and everything that goes with it – the sorting of papers, the packing of books, the dismantling of an existence – feels a bit like groundhog day by now. The fact is that uncertainty and insecurity have become a way of life.
And the more that I think about it, there is still reason to hope. Funding bodies such as the AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Humboldt Foundation, and others, will continue to be there. So will the opportunities to work with colleagues outside the UK. And as for the relevance of the research that I do on cultural identities and the movement of ideas in medieval Europe – well, it could not be clearer than here and now, could it?