Thursday, November 26, 2009

Medieval and Early Modern Studies Conference at Moravian College

Moravian College in Pennsylvania will host an interdisciplinary Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies on Saturday, December 5, marking the fourth year that this notable academic conference will be held at the College. The conference and related activities have been designed to highlight the richness and interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies and early modern studies. The day-long program will showcase student scholarship and creative work, encourage students to consider future work in graduate and professional studies, provide students with the opportunity to present their work in a broader setting beyond the classroom, and build ties among medievalists and early modernists in the region.

Students from colleges in the northeastern United States will present papers or performances related to art, history, English, music, philosophy, religion, and other disciplines dealing with the medieval and early modern eras. The keynote speech will be delivered by David Wallace, the Judith Rodin Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. A medievalist who looks forward to the early modern period, Wallace works on English and Italian matters with additional interests in French, German, Eastern Europe, women's writing, romance, "discovery" of the Americas and the history of slavery. He is currently editing a literary history of Europe, 1348-1418, a work of 600,000 words in 81 chapters to be published by Oxford University Press and supported by the Guggenheim Foundation.

Professor Wallace has made a series of radio documentaries for BBC Radio 3 with producer Paul Quinn. Also, in October 2007 he gave the Clarendon Lectures in English at Oxford; these are currently being written into book form as "Strong Women: Life, Text, and Territory 1347-1645." Wallace's most recent book is Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn, and other publications include The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing, and The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature.

Opening remarks will be presented at 9:15 a.m. by Jim Skalnik, assistant dean for academic advising at Moravian. Student presentations will begin at 9:40 a.m. and continue until the luncheon break at 11:40 p.m. with demonstrations by calligrapher Therese Swift-Hahn.

The conference will reconvene at 12:50 p.m. for David Wallace's plenary speech, which will be followed with an afternoon session and a reception. The conference will conclude with a performance of early modern music by "Hesperus." The group will perform at 5 p.m. at nearby Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 E. Market St., Bethlehem, Pa. (Concert admission is free for conference attendees, but tickets are required.)

Hesperus, known for being innovative, historically informed and multicultural, specializes in fusions of historic and living traditions. Founded in 1979 and named for Venus and the West Wind, the five-member group comprises several ensembles with overlapping membership that perform three kinds of programs: Cultural portraits featuring early and traditional music from a single culture, crossover fusions of European medieval and Renaissance music with American traditional styles such as Appalachian, Cajun, vaudeville and the blues, and single-genre early music programs of medieval, Renaissance and baroque music. Hesperus has toured nationally and internationally for more than two decades.

Now in its fourth year, Moravian College hosted its first-ever Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies in December 2006. The event featured a rich exchange of scholarly ideas with 28 presentations by undergraduate students from various colleges and over 200 attendees representing 25 schools. Along with conventional slide lectures, the day was filled with performances and demonstrations, including a Renaissance dance by the Moravian Star Irish Dance Troupe and calligraphy by Therese Swift-Hahn, who returns this year. Other events included a plenary speech by Arthurian literature specialist Kelley Wickham-Crowley, a reception hosted by the Friends of Reeves Library, and a performance (to a packed house) by members of the Baltimore Consort and Quartetto Brio.

The conference and associated activities are being organized by Sandy Bardsley , assistant professor of history, and John Black , assistant professor of English at Moravian College. A website for the conference can be found at