The Medieval Academy of America’s Committee on Centers and Regional Associations (CARA) presents its 2023 annual meeting:
American Gothics? Creating Local Visions and Versions of the ‘Medieval’
Sunday, 26 February 2023, 9:00 am-12:30 pm
The Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington DC
As the Medieval Academy of America approaches its centennial anniversary, we all are encouraged to reflect anew on the role of “the medieval” within 21st-century North America. For our colleagues working in Africa, Asia, and Europe, land- and cityscapes frequently contain remnants and reminders of their medieval pasts, offering a living palimpsest for scholars and students alike. What, however, would a “local history of the Middle Ages” look like in Sacramento, San Antonio, St. Louis, or Schenectady?
This year’s CARA meeting will explore the challenges and opportunities of such locally focused medieval scholarship and pedagogy, focusing upon how we might identify, understand, and explain the many ways in which the Middle Ages continues to be present in our own communities and regions. While this presence can be tangible—e.g., books and objects surviving from the medieval past and preserved in museums and libraries, as well as objects, art, and architecture inspired by medieval forms and precedents—it also can take less tangible, but no less real, forms, such as stories, symbols, names, traditions, and folk- or foodways. What kinds of accounts might we offer about these medieval remnants and reappropriations? How might we use them to teach others about the historical as well as mythical Middle Ages, a Middle Ages viewed (in the words of Catherine Clarke) “through the accretions, interventions, and responses of later centuries”?
After short opening remarks and introductions, our program will be divided into two sessions. In the first, we will hear about and discuss two ongoing projects meant to reveal the complex ways in which “the medieval” has shaped, and continues to shape, local communities in the U.S.: Medieval New York, led by Fordham medievalists Christina Bruno and Katherina Fostano, and Medieval DC, led by the Washington-based scholars Laura Morreale, Jennifer Davis, and Mikkaela Bailey. After a brief break, meeting participants will be organized in local and regional “caucus groups”, to engage in conversation over lunch about the kind of work represented by Medieval New York and Medieval DC, and explore opportunities for creating similar projects going forward, including potential collaborative “local medieval” initiatives at an institutional, regional, or association-wide level. In coming months, CARA will be available to discuss and provide feedback and support for such initiatives, including their promotion under the aegis of the MAA’s own Centennial programming initiatives.
We are excited by the opportunity to learn from our New York and Washington D.C. colleagues, and to hear our members’ ideas about how we might “bring medieval home”. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C. in February.