Fordham graduate students recently had the opportunity to participate in a class coinciding with the Morgan Library and Museum’s exhibit Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders (June 8-September 23). The show examines the varied depictions of monsters in medieval manuscripts, and explores the possible roles monsters played in medieval life and thought. Team-taught by Asa Mittman (California State University, Chico) and Sherry Lindquist (Western Illinois University), the course also included students from NYU and Yeshiva University and drew on the Morgan’s extensive manuscript collection. Fordham Medieval Studies MA Melanee Bapst writes of her experience in the class:
What is a monster? In the class Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, and Wonders taught by Dr. Asa Mittman and Dr. Sherry Lindquist, we examined the role of monsters in medieval art, manuscripts and culture. I have learned that the parameters by which a monster is defined are contingent on either a monster’s appearance or its monstrous qualities. Students were paired off and, by the end of the one-month course, completed papers related to a monster or monsters through careful study of select manuscripts from the Morgan collection. Initially, my partner and I focused on the weapons used to kill monsters and knights. However, after studying a manuscript for the first time, our focus completely changed, and we chose to look at all the monsters represented in the text as was the similar theme in all the papers submitted. Observing a manuscript had a direct impact on the direction of our research and this showed me the importance of encountering the physical manuscript if it is part of a study. This class was not only informative about monsters, but also about the wonders held in the pages of manuscripts.