The Center for Medieval Studies sent a detachment of professors and graduate students to participate in the Fort Tryon Medieval Festival on Sunday October 2, 2022, continuing this new tradition after a 2-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Occupying a booth, the Fordham medievalists answered any and all questions from the public about the medieval world, and took the opportunity to show off a portion of the program’s collection of facsimiles, which are modern recreations of medieval manuscripts. These facsimiles drew in a large number of interested fair-goers!

‘Ask a Medievalist’

What a huge hit! The public was able to ask the students and professors any and all their questions regarding the Middle Ages. Such questions ranged from the reality of dragons and unicorns to Old English vocabulary and syntax, to popular conceptions of the Middle Ages, such as why they are often called the ‘Dark Ages’? and everyday life (What sorts of homes did people live in? What sort of medical care was available to them? What did they do for entertainment? And how would they have disposed of waste?).

Through this interaction, the program hoped to provide a more nuanced and thorough view of the Middle Ages than would generally be presented to them. Indeed, the public showed a genuine sense of empathy and curiosity for the way that medieval people lived their lives.

Overall, this experience was an excellent opportunity for Fordham University’s Center for Medieval Studies to participate in public-facing history.  We are very pleased with the questions that we received, and are looking forward to another successful outing next year.