CARA News: Stanford University

Over the 2016-2017 academic year, the Stanford Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (CMEMS) sponsored a variety of activities to support our growing community of medieval and early modern scholars.

Throughout the year, we continued our longstanding series of weekly lunchtime workshops, engaging in fruitful and lively conversations with a variety of speakers from other institutions, as well as many from our own community.

In November, we hosted our third annual Primary Source Symposium, which aims to advance the study of medieval and early modern culture with a special emphasis on primary sources. This year’s theme was “Reformations” in honor of the 500th anniversary of the so-called Protestant Reformation. The keynote speakers were Brad Gregory (University of Notre Dame) and Susan Schreiner (Divinity School, University of Chicago).

Many other faculty-led workshops, research groups, and collaborative projects provided opportunities for further in-depth and sustained scholarly exploration. Among these was “Icons of Sound”, a collaboration led by Bissera Pentcheva (Art and Art History) and Jonathan Abel (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics). Pentcheva and Abel worked with Cappella Romana to create “Hagia Sophia Reimagined,” a performance using digital technology to produce a virtual acoustic and aesthetic journey to Constantinople’s Great Church.  Marisa Galvez (French) organized a workshop entitled “Crusade: New Directions in Research and Teaching,” which brought together an interdisciplinary group of colleagues to discuss the state of crusades studies, recent research, and pedagogical approaches among the disciplines. Continuing these discussions, next year CMEMS will host a collaborative conference with the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale (University of Poitiers) on “Southern France and the Latin East in the Thirteenth Century: Crusade, Networks, and Exchanges.” Kathryn Starkey (German Studies) and Fiona Griffiths (History) hosted a workshop on the medieval senses to continue the collaboration sparked by sessions they organized for the 2016 International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo: “Sensory Reflections: Traces of Experience in Medieval Artifacts”.

We continue to offer an undergraduate Minor in Medieval Studies, as well as many undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on medieval and early modern topics. This year’s highlights included an interdisciplinary course taught by Kathryn Starkey and Fiona Griffiths on “Medieval Sensory Experience” in conjunction with their workshop. Students collaborated in developing the course syllabus and participated in the workshop discussions, while also learning about the process of editing a book and publishing it.  The class culminated in a trip to the Walter’s Art Museum to see the exhibition, “A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe.” Finally, in a new hands-on course on medieval feasting, entitled, “Food, Text, Music: A Multidisciplinary Lab on the Art of Feasting,” students of Jesse Rodin (Music) and Marisa Galvez heard each week from various guest lecturers on diverse aspects of medieval and modern feasting and food cultures, and cooked dishes ranging from apple omelets to spiced turnips, all taken from medieval recipe collections. Each class finished with feast involving lively discussion of the historical and symbolic significance of the day’s delicacies.

We look forward to another year rich in Medieval and Early Modern offerings in 2017-2018!

Fiona Griffiths and Marisa Galvez

Co-Directors, Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Stanford University

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