(l-r) Fordham Medieval Studies Students Ruisen Zheng, Emily Gerace, Dr. Andrew Albin, and Katie DeFonzo at the 4th Hudson Valley Medieval and Early Modern Undergraduate Symposium

On February 24, Fordham Medieval Studies undergrads attended an academic conference at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. The Conference, the 4th Hudson Valley Medieval and Early Modern Undergraduate Symposium, brought together scholars from across New York state. Three Fordham scholars presented papers: Emily Gerace (“Memory, Friendship, and Grief in the Book of the Duchess”), Ruisen Zheng (“Interpreting Byzantine Diplomacy in the First Crusade: When the Knights Bow to the Basileus Alexius Komnenos”), and Katie DeFonzo (“Margery Kempe: Outspoken Heretic or Woman of God?”).

Feedback from the participating students was extremely positive, highlighting the importance of such opportunities to share and discuss ideas with colleagues and peers. For the Fordham students involved, it was their first time presenting at such an academic venue. Katie DeFonzo wrote to tell us that

[t]his experience has only made me hopeful that I will be able to do so again in the future. Everyone was welcoming and eager to hear one another’s ideas. Many of the talks focused on literary works in a historical context, and I think this was an excellent way to get students to consider how the study of history can intersect with other disciplines.

Emily Gerace added,

Presenting at the conference was a great experience. Everyone was very welcoming, and it was incredible to be around so many other medievalists. The medieval-themed meal was wonderful, too. I would gladly do it again!

Finally, Ruisen Zheng noted that not only did presenters receive positive and useful feedback on their papers, but the overarching theme of the conference itself really brought home how relevant Medieval Studies can be to our contemporary world and issues:

I was in fact really nervous at the beginning, but in the end, I think it was great to share my work with other amazing students and professors and to talk with them and exchange different ideas we had passion about. Overall, I did learn a lot from this conference. I noticed a theme that was mentioned, about how relevant the medieval history is to today’s world: the millennium we considered as the Middle Age was as shining as any other period in the world’s history. In China, we often think history as a mirror that reflects today’s society, and in this conference while we were talking about the past, we were also talking and thinking of the present day. I received some really good feedback on my paper, especially about how we think of governance, authority, and ideology that I did not think of when I wrote my paper.

And I think I would definitely love to have this great experience again, with other Fordham students and other amazing people from other places.”

Congratulations to the three Fordham presenters who so aptly represented our Medieval Studies department,  and a big thank you to Dr. Albin for his assistance and support.  “I encourage all of our students to apply with abandon to conferences like the Hudson Valley Symposium,” said Dr. Albin. “They provide unique opportunities to share work among a knowledgeable and enthusiastic community of fellow undergrads and committed faculty, and the public speaking and information-building skills you gain are invaluable for future pursuits, both inside and outside the university.”

Check back here regularly at The Venerable Blog: the Official Blog of the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies to see what our students are doing.

(Reporting for this story provided by Galina Krasskova)