THE MIDDLE AGES, FRONT AND CENTER

From the recent film Beowulf to the Arthurian trappings of the Harry Potter novels to the continuing popularity of Tolkien's Middle Earth, it's clear that medieval times are appealing to modern audiences. It's a historical period that seems to hold something for everyone, says John Black, assistant professor of English at Moravian. "I'm constantly and repeatedly intrigued, as I run across fellow medievalists, about what interests them," he says. "It's always amazing how individual those interests are." He adds: "Of course, looking at 1500 years of history, across so many cultures, if you can't find something that interests you it’s a sad day."

This Saturday, December 1, medieval enthusiasts of all sorts are welcome to join scholars and students gathering at Moravian College for the Second Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The conference, organized by professor Black and Sandy Bardsley, assistant professor of history, features dozens of research presentations and performances by undergraduate students. Over two hundred attendees are expected, with some presenters coming from as far away as Oregon (Macon State College) and Georgia (Pacific University). Presentations by Moravian students will include "Sixteenth-Century Drama as Religious Propaganda," by Jonathan Ennis, "Pride: The Moral Corruptor of Faustus" by Sarah Lucci, and a performance of Pandora, an original play written in Latin by James Tyler, adjunct instructor of Latin at Moravian. The conference also features demonstrations by calligrapher Therese Swift-Hahn, medieval tile displays from the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, and performances by the musician-historians Bells & Motley. The plenary address by Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies director Maryanne Kowaleski is titled "Gossip, Gender and the Economy: The Origins of Scolding Indictments in Medieval England." All events are free and open to the general public.

Presenting a paper or a performance at a conference benefits undergraduate students in a number of ways, says professor Black. " Students get a chance see that what they do in the classroom has importance beyond that particular assignment," he says. "They see that there are other people interested in these topics." The event also gives students a chance to gain public speaking and networking experience, and a taste of the scholarly life that awaits them should they pursue an academic career. "Students not presenting or performing can get involved by moderating panels, helping with registration or in other ways," says professor Black. "It's an event full of opportunities for learning outside the classroom, and that's central to what we do here at Moravian."

Visitors to the HUB in the past week may feel in a medieval mode already, thanks to posters hanging in the Eiffe Gallery. A series of posters authored by independent study in architecture students Meghan Decker '08, Angela Geosits '09, Jessica Kerchner '08, and Lauren Pettit '08 presents examples of Byzantine, Islamic, Romanesque, Gothic and other architecture types prominent during and shortly after the Middle Ages. The posters were produced by Sarah Warrick '08, Colleen Kane '08, and Tim Biery '09. "I'm proud of how the architecture students and the graphic design students worked together to make something both attractive and informative," says Jan Ciganick, adjunct instructor for the class.

Also on view: "A History of Illuminated Manuscripts," a poster series depicting illustrated text from various Medieval sources. The posters were designed by Colleen Kane '08, using images researched and chosen by Jan Ciganick and other faculty members.

The 2nd Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies will be held at Moravian College on Saturday, December 1, 2007. More details here.