In celebration of its upcoming 2025 Centennial, the Medieval Academy of America has earmarked funding for a series of Centennial Grants of up to $5,000 each supporting the planning and implementation of local events and projects celebrating and promoting medieval studies in education and the arts in North America. We are very pleased to announce the winners of the first round of MAA Centennial Grants:
The Bayeux Tapestry from Scratch (PI: Elizabeth K. Hebbard, Indiana University):
The Bayeux Tapestry from Scratch (BTFS) Project will mobilize experimental and experiential methods in humanities learning and research in Medieval Studies. BTFS celebrates traditional skills and artistry as an introduction to medieval culture more broadly, with a focus on the 70-meter-long textile depicting the background and events of the Battle of Hastings in 1066, likely produced for Odo of Bayeux shortly after the Norman Conquest and, it is believed, designed for display in the Bayeux cathedral. Likely called a tapestry because of its display context, the Bayeux Tapestry is actually an embroidery featuring the work of many anonymous and probably women needlecraft artists using an embroidery technique of laid and couched work, as well as some other stitches identified through intensive study of the object during its careful restoration. The project will consist of a series of workshops walking participants through the many knowledge- and labor-intensive steps behind the creation of the textile, beginning with the planting of flax in the Book Lab’s academic garden at the IU Hilltop Garden and Nature Center. The workshops do not aim to recreate the Bayeux Tapestry, but instead to build knowledge and understanding around premodern agricultural and craft practices.
The Interconnected Middle Ages (PI: Michael A. Ryan, University of New Mexico):
This grant will support the 39th annual Helen Damico Memorial Lecture Series, sponsored by the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of New Mexico in 2025. For the 39th annual Helen Damico Memorial Lecture Series, the proposed theme would be “The Interconnected Middle Ages.” This proposed theme centers the interconnectivity of the medieval past within much larger networks that operate on three levels. First, speakers could potentially share research on how medieval societies were interconnected on individual levels. How, for instance, did people within specific and local medieval societies connect with (or conversely turn from) each other on multiple levels? Second, speakers might choose to focus their remarks on the interconnectivity of medieval societies with other contemporary societies around the world, part of a growing movement on scholarship focusing on the “Global Middle Ages.” Finally, invited scholars might investigate how the Middle Ages interconnected temporally, located specifically between antiquity and early modernity and, more generally, as a crucial component that fashioned a premodern past linked with today.
Medievalists of Northern Louisiana (PI: Edward Holt, Grambling State University):
Grambling State University’s History Department will create a lecture series which highlights and promotes the vibrancy of medieval studies in Northern Louisiana. Held in Spring 2025, this series of six (6) lectures will showcase research by local medievalists through providing a venue to share their work with public audiences (student, faculty, and community). This series will culminate in a lecture by Dr. Monica Green, who will demonstrate possible futures for the field through her work at the intersection of digital, public, scientific, and (of course) medieval.
The Middle Ages for Educators Open Access Resource (OAR) Sweet Sixteen Playoffs (PI: Laura Morreale, Independent Scholar/Princeton University):
MAFE is always looking to expand both its content and user base and bring engaging materials about the medieval past to educators and the general public. Together with the stated support of the MAA’s K-12 committee, MAFE proposes a good-natured competition among medievalist colleagues to encourage contributions to the site, make educators aware of these OARs, and solicit K-12 educator expertise in creating and disseminating these same materials. The competition will be structured as a bracketed tournament featuring sixteen initial competitors in a single elimination competition. Initial submissions will be judged by a panel of K-12 educators and feedback offered, then the final decisions made by public viewing and voting. All semi-finalists’ projects will be featured at the MAA 2025 centennial meeting in Boston. Semi-finalists will receive a cash prize for their contributions and a stipend to attend a lunch-time roundtable at the Centennial Meeting on creating effective OARs for medieval studies.
Public Medieval: A Workshop for Graduate Students, ECRs, and Underemployed Medievalists (PI: Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech):
Virginia Tech (with partnership from UVA) proposes to host a 2 day workshop to mentor graduate students, early career researchers, and underemployed MedievALLists doing public-facing work. The symposium will be held in Fall 2024 (so that the training can be put into practice and events planned for the following year) and will be modeled on a “Public Classics” workshop held at Northwestern in October 2019. We will bring in several prominent public medievalists as mentors, who, over the course of our workshop, will staff roundtables touching including pitching to magazines/ newspapers, trade publishing, social media presence (and safety), working with local stakeholders and the community, the logistics of organizing in-person (and online) events, etc. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, each mentor will pair with a small group of participants as mentees, with significant time devoted to building relationships by discussing and adapting the participants’ own interests to their specific situations. Ideally, these will be the beginnings of long-term mentoring relationships, following the model that the MAA’s graduate students have used so successfully at conferences.
Space City Medievalism (PI: Daniel Davies, University of Houston):
Space City Medievalism is a series of events that stage encounters between contemporary poets and medieval literature in Houston, TX. During the 2024-25 academic year, we will organize a series of workshops between scholars of medieval literature and creative writers that explore different aspects of medieval poetics. Creative writers will then create their own responses to medieval literature, ranging from translations and adaptations to pastiches and confrontations, to create original compositions that intertwine contemporary and medieval poetics. The program will culminate with a public poetry reading in April 2025 in which program participants perform their original medievalist poetry. The reading will also feature a leading poet whose practice is informed by medieval literature.
Virtual Medieval Books in the Schools (PI: Michelle Hamilton, University of Minnesota):
We (Center for Premodern Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) are creating online resources to complement our in-person K-12 classroom presentations on the history of the book in the Middle Ages. The Medieval Book in the Schools classroom program has been running successfully for almost twenty years (initiated by Professor Susan Noakes in 2005). Primarily a program for elementary school students, we have recently created a second
presentation aimed at high school and undergraduate students.
York Plays 2025 (PI: Matthew Sergi, University of Toronto):
On Saturday, June 7, 2025 (rain date Sunday, June 8, 2025), starting at 6:30am — and likely continuing past midnight — eighteen performance groups from across North America, organized by the Poculi ludique societas, will participate in staging all of the York Corpus Christi plays in medieval style, using Christina M. Fitzgerald’s new editions of the fifteenth-century York Register manuscript, repeating each play across four performance stations, outdoors on the University of Toronto campus (at Victoria College’s Burwash Quad).
We are very pleased to support these exciting projects. These lectures, workshops, exhibits, demonstrations, online resources, and performances will promote Medieval Studies across North America (Ontario, Massachusetts, Virginia, Indiana, Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico) to audiences including K-12 students and educators, graduate students and ECRs, senior scholars, and the general public. A second round of applications will open soon.