Medieval Live Celebrates New Academic Concentration
Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 01:09
Faculty and students gathered together on Sept. 3 to celebrate the recently established medieval studies minor at UConn.
They celebrated the new minor by performing a wide array of pieces from the medieval period including Jewish poetry and carols. The new minor is meant to allow undergraduates at UConn to take advantage of the programs offered by the Medieval Studies program, which was restricted to graduate programs until now.
The performance offered by faculty and students was entitled Medieval Live: A Multimedia Middle Ages. This performance featured professors such as Eduardo Urios-Aparisi, who performed poetry by Ausiás March. March was a Valencian knight and poet who lived from 1397 C.E. to roughly 1459 C.E..
Susan Einbinder Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Comparative Literature performed a selection of alliterative poetry written by Yedaiah Bedersi, whom she described as a child prodigy of the middle ages. Einbinder performed a piece by Bedersi known as the Elef Alafin. Due to its alliterative nature, the work begins each sentence of its nearly thousand lines with an “a” sound in Hebrew. This lead Einbinder to comment that her translation, while not starting each line with an “a”, actually contained one thousand “a”s. Einbinder noted that this poem provided an interesting perspective on the expulsion of the Jews from France in 1306, since it was written that year by a French Jew.
Jean Givens an Art History Professor at UConn spoke about illustrations from the Grete Herball, a medieval book of remedies translated from earlier Latin texts. Givens commented on the unique nature of the cover given its presentation of various herbal remedies being gathered and Mr. and Mrs. Mandrake in poses reminiscent of Adam and Eve. Givens remarked about the texts that it’s “entertaining in the way it surprises us, and confirms our expectations that people do not change.”
Sheri Olson the co-director of the Medieval Studies Program, read a translation of a medieval English court case involving a widow’s inheritance. Olson reflected on the trouble pieces like this have caused for feminist historians, since women were able to assume the full legal responsibilities of a man by taking the same oaths.
In addition to poetry performances and readings, faculty and students also presented various examples of medieval music. Three individuals, Isabella Leake, Anastasia Pilato and Madeline Caples sung a macaronic carol written for St. Stephen’s day. A macaronic piece is one that combines a mixture of two languages. The St. Stephen’s Day carol combines Middle English with Latin. One of the singers reflected that the word macaronic does relate to the word macaroni since they both have to do with mixing.
Brendan Kane, an associate professor of history, led the audience in singing an Irish wedding song entitled Peigín’s Peadar and closed the performance. Kane substituted in as the grand finale, since Roger Travis an associate professor of Classics was unable to perform as scheduled. Travis’ performance was rescheduled to a later date, and will likely be performed at a luncheon once the details are finalized.