Revel in the Middle Ages

Moravian undergraduate conference explores intriguing eras from a variety of perspectives.

At least eleven Moravian College students will present papers or will perform at the Fourth Annual Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies this Saturday, December 5. Photos (from the 2006 conference) by John Kish IV.

Longing for a more orderly world, or simply for a weekend escape? At the Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Complex (PPHAC) this Saturday, you can soak up the ideas and events of an entirely different time, when Moravian College hosts the Fourth Annual Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

On December 5, students from more than thirty colleges will present papers and performances at the interdisciplinary conference. The conference explores and celebrates the literature, history, art, and philosophy of the periods ranging from 500 CE to 1800 CE.

The daylong event is free and open to the campus community and public. (Late and on-site registrations are welcome.) Dean Jim Skalnik will make an opening address at 9:15 a.m.

The conference is one of the nation's few undergraduate conferences focused on the humanities and was the first to feature medieval and early modern studies. Student participation at the annual conference has remained consistently strong since Professors John Black, associate professor of English, and Sandra Bardsley, associate professor of history, initiated it in 2006.

"It says something about interest in the field, which is interdisciplinary by nature," said Professor Black, co-organizer with Professor Bardsley. "To think about a piece of literature, for example, not in isolation but within its cultural context is very appealing. The conference draws attendees from all over the country." Recent popular interest in the works of J.R.R. Tolkein and the 2007 film Beowulf also reflect (and encourage) interest, he added.

Students can participate and benefit as presenters, moderators, and promoters for the conference. "As a moderator last year, I was able to listen to and observe many presentations and question and answer sessions,"said Kelly Grab '11, an English major. "Making a presentation as an undergraduate at a prestigious conference like this is good preparation for the Honors Program and for graduate school. You gain valuable experience defending your thesis verbally." At the Saturday conference, Kelly and Aaron Bach '10 will perform selected readings for "Gendered Monologues in Shakespeare's Hamlet"—inspired by "One Voice: Monologues in Twentieth Century Drama," a new special topic class taught by Nicole Tabor, assistant professor of English.

Event Highlights

  • Calligrapher Therese Swift-Hahn will return to demonstrate her craft.
    Plenary presentation: David Wallace, Judith Rodin professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, "Literary Locations, Where Europe Begins and Ends: 1348-1418." Prosser Auditorium 12:50 p.m.
  • Student presentations and performances (PPHAC) include "Images of the Crusades from a Thirteenth-Century Illuminated Manuscript," "Serfdom: Medieval and Modern," and "Insults and the Art of Mockery within The Canterbury Tales." For the first time, two panels (all Moravian College students) will make presentations in Spanish.
  • Calligrapher Therese Swift-Hahn will return to demonstrate.
  • Early music ensemble, Hesperus, will perform at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Bethlehem at 5:00.