Friday, May 01, 2009

30th Annual Medieval Forum held at Plymouth State University

The campus of Plymouth State University hosted its 30th annual medieval forum on April 24th and 25th. "Dreams, Imagination, and Fantasy" is the theme for the this year's event which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The forum is a multidisciplinary exploration of the Medieval and Renaissance period with academic analyses of the period and demonstrations of music, games, and other activities. The forum was an event were local Medieval scholars could discuss research and attend academic panels. Also, some student organizations partook in the different ceremonies held throughout the weekend.

The forum's opening was marked with a procession from Rounds Hall to the Hartman Union Building, led by the members of the PSU Medieval Society wearing medieval garb and carrying banners to the Fireplace Lounge for the opening addresses.

PSU Professor Emeritus Robin Bowers read a passage from Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," which spoke of springtime pilgrimages.

The passage was followed by a reading of a welcome poem written by Poet Laureate Phil O'Mara. O'Mara was unable to attend and different parts of the poem, written in the vein of Chaucer about scholars gathering for the forum, were read by different people.

"Having an event like this is part of what a university does," said PSU President Sara Jayne Steen, adding that the forum was "a grand dream" of interdisciplinary scholarship.

"It was not a fantasy because people who cared turned it into a reality," she said.

Steen said she has taught Medieval and Renaissance studies and some of the professors allowed her to sit in on and teach a few Medieval Studies-related classes at PSU. She also spoke of the work of keynote speaker Carole Levin.

"We're talking about education in its largest and truest sense," Steen said.

Sessions including discussions and the reading of academic papers took place at the forum as well as a bladesmithing demonstration by Tyler Borror and the Ensemble Chaconne with Pamela Dellal performing "Measure for Measure: The Music of Shakespeare's Plays."

The PSU Medieval Society put on a human chess match on the lawn in front of the Hartman Union Building and will hold a chainmail workshop and longbow demonstration today. Society members also sold chainmail jewelry and accessories as well as other items made by members.

The Medieval and Renaissance Forum is a major event for members of the Medieval Society. Members will provide general assistance throughout the weekend.

On the 30th anniversary of the forum, members spoke of the importance of keeping the tradition going. The first Medieval Forum was held in 1980 and has continued every year since. About 100 people attended the welcoming ceremony on Friday. Most were from the New England region, but some gathered from as far away as Colorado to attend the forum.

After the welcoming ceremony, participants were free to attend the different workshops held through out the day. Most of the topics revolved around the literature and social conditions of the day.

While the forum was academic in nature, PSU's Medieval Society helped to make the forum more animated.

"We completely decorated Rounds," Dana Nevins, senior Criminal Justice major and Medieval Society member said. The Medieval Society also held events relevant to Medieval pastimes and sponsored a live chess match on the Alumni Green on Friday.

The Medieval presentations continued through Saturday evening. The weekend culminated into a feast on Saturday night. "This is last event of the two day event," Matt Rolph, Associate Director to the Medieval and Renaissance Forum said.

About 150 people attended the final dinner. Those in attendance were encouraged to dress in medieval attire. The dinner was held in Heritage Commons, which was a change from past years.