This past weekend (May 10-13) was the 53rd Annual International Conference of Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI. With over five hundred panels running throughout the weekend, this is the largest medieval studies conference in the world, and there were at least 3600 scholars in attendance at Western Michigan University to kick off the event. Among them, were several Medieval Studies graduate students from the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.
Stephen Powell and Kevin Vogelaar took part in the “New Voices in Medieval History” panel sponsored by the Haskins Society. Stephen, whose research includes ferries in medieval English transport systems and what they can tell us about patterns of travel across medieval England and Wales, gave a paper titled “The Monk’s Quill is Mightier than the Earl’s Sword: the De laude Cestrie and Medieval Chestrian Political Identity.”
Kevin, who works primarily on medieval Syriac apocalyptic narratives written in reaction to the late 7th c. formation of the Umayyad Caliphate, presented a paper titled “Sonic Exorcism: The Bell as Object of Purification in the Ninth-Century Polemic of Eulogius and Albar of Cordoba.” Both papers were fascinating, extremely well received, and generated quite a bit of feedback from the audience.
On Friday, Galina Krasskova, who specializes in early Christianity, particularly spiritual eunuchism in the early Church and actual eunuchs in 4th c. Byzantium, presented a paper titled, “Feasting with the Dead: Pagan Sensibilities in Christian Practice” in a panel titled “’Fancy Meeting You Here!’: Medieval Texts and Traditions as Sources for Understanding Polytheism.” This paper was likewise very well attended. Dr. Susanne Hafner, who attended in support of all the Fordham students said, “The graduate students represented Fordham well by presenting their original research competently and eloquently. They did us proud.”
Drs. Hafner, Gyug, and Yeager chaired panels and/or presented papers, English PhD candidate David Smigen-Rothkopf participated in a roundtable with a paper titled “’Whatsomever He Makyth Hymself’: Re-defining Nobility in “Torre and Pellinor” and in “The Tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney” and History PhD candidate Michael Sanders gave a paper titled “Forgotten Roads to Jerusalem: Examining the Iberian Context of Garcias de Ayerbe and His Informatio alia de pertinentibus ad passagium (ca. 1322-24).
All in all, Fordham University was well represented and many of the students are already planning for next year. Meanwhile, congratulations are due to Stephen, who will be heading off to Rutgers University in the Fall for the PhD in History, and Kevin, who is pursuing a second MA this Fall at Tufts University in Art History and Museum Studies. Good luck to them both!