Session Title

Community Outreach: Medieval Studies outside of the Academy

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Julie Polcrack, Eric Gobel

Organizer Affiliation

Western Michigan Univ., Western Michigan Univ.

Presider Name

Julie Polcrack

Paper Title 1

Marching with Medieval Penguins: Teaching Medieval Texts while Working in Antarctica

Presenter 1 Name

Kelly E. Hall

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Program for Afloat College Education (PACE), U.S. Navy

Paper Title 2

Translating Medievalisms on the Regional Stage: Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage at Trinity Repertory Theatre

Presenter 2 Name

Daniel Ruppel

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Brown Univ.

Start Date

11-5-2017 7:30 PM

Session Location

Bernhard 205

Description

Medieval Studies, despite institutional pushback, continues to be viewed as one of the most fascinating and absurd academic fields, not only by professional medievalists, but also hobbyists and the general public more broadly. The incredible success of stories with pre-modern subjects and themes in popular media attests to the near universal appeal of our subject. Shows such as Game of Thrones and Vikings and groups such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Adrian Empire demonstrate that interest in medieval topics is scarcely limited to professionals and academics – indeed, we may be the minority. Reaching out to the communities in which we exist allows us to tap into a population that already loves the Middle Ages.

This session will explore the numerous ways that academics can harness the general fascination with the Middle Ages and use it to move beyond academia and encourage interest and engagement with the medieval world. Few academic departments have community outreach programs in place that allow them to educate on and advocate for their discipline. Without a strong relationship between medievalists in the academy and the wider community, the field of medieval studies becomes irrelevant to the public. As public funding for the humanities continues to decline sharply, we as medievalists need to be proactive to prevent our field from becoming obsolete. We must endorse the study of the Middle Ages through education that reaches beyond the college classroom. Community outreach programs are mutually beneficial: all participants have the opportunity to fill lacunae stemming from their education, while professional medievalists can correct misconceptions about the Middle Ages and promote our beloved discipline. In order for Medieval Studies to continue as an academic discipline, we need to plant the seed of intellectual curiosity in a new generation of scholars through public outreach. Representatives from university academic departments, library science, public history, and museum studies with experience in community outreach are encouraged to join this paper session.

Julie E. Polcrack

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May 11th, 7:30 PM

Community Outreach: Medieval Studies outside of the Academy

Bernhard 205

Medieval Studies, despite institutional pushback, continues to be viewed as one of the most fascinating and absurd academic fields, not only by professional medievalists, but also hobbyists and the general public more broadly. The incredible success of stories with pre-modern subjects and themes in popular media attests to the near universal appeal of our subject. Shows such as Game of Thrones and Vikings and groups such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Adrian Empire demonstrate that interest in medieval topics is scarcely limited to professionals and academics – indeed, we may be the minority. Reaching out to the communities in which we exist allows us to tap into a population that already loves the Middle Ages.

This session will explore the numerous ways that academics can harness the general fascination with the Middle Ages and use it to move beyond academia and encourage interest and engagement with the medieval world. Few academic departments have community outreach programs in place that allow them to educate on and advocate for their discipline. Without a strong relationship between medievalists in the academy and the wider community, the field of medieval studies becomes irrelevant to the public. As public funding for the humanities continues to decline sharply, we as medievalists need to be proactive to prevent our field from becoming obsolete. We must endorse the study of the Middle Ages through education that reaches beyond the college classroom. Community outreach programs are mutually beneficial: all participants have the opportunity to fill lacunae stemming from their education, while professional medievalists can correct misconceptions about the Middle Ages and promote our beloved discipline. In order for Medieval Studies to continue as an academic discipline, we need to plant the seed of intellectual curiosity in a new generation of scholars through public outreach. Representatives from university academic departments, library science, public history, and museum studies with experience in community outreach are encouraged to join this paper session.

Julie E. Polcrack