The word “medieval” usually brings to mind the famous legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and the numerous ways in which they have been depicted in pop culture. These portrayals have left modern society rife with misconceptions of the medieval era as the time of the valorous knight, who rode about the countryside rescuing damsels in distress, slaying dragons and proving his worth, skill and bravery in that telling test of tenacity – the joust. You know, like in the film “A Knight’s Tale.”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but “A Knight’s Tale” isn’t exactly an accurate account of the typical medieval knight. As the tournament spectators begin stomping in unison in a rhythm that sounds vaguely like Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” one starts to question the film’s historical accuracy.
But while Hollywood is busy producing romanticized versions of history to fill innocent minds with inaccurate information, the noble members of UR’s Medieval Society are hard at work exposing the truth about the events, people and culture of the medieval world.
“As an academic society, we like to know the facts behind the myths,” Activities Coordinator Becky Phillips said. Formed in 2003 by seniors Sam Boyer and Jay Min, the Medieval Society has been busy planning events such as last semester’s heraldry workshop, talks given by medieval scholars and professors.
The Medieval Society has planned a number of talks for this semester, the next of which will feature film studies professor Joanne Bernardi from the department of Modern Languages and Cultures. Professor Bernardi will discuss the Japanese Obasute legend of disposing of the elderly and its role in two radically different film representations of the “Ballad of Narayama.” The event will be held in the Robbins Library at 5 p.m. and refreshments will be served following the talk.
To provide entertainment for UR students, the Medieval Society has joined forces with the Cinema Group to offer two screenings of “The Princess Bride” Thurs. Feb. 9 in Hoyt Auditorium at 8 and 10 p.m. In the future the Medieval Society hopes to bring more entertainment to UR such as a medieval choir next spring and hopefully at some point a medieval faire.
The Medieval Society aims to plan events that will make the history of medieval culture available today. They use their meetings as planning time for events, as well as a place to further examine various aspects of medieval culture. For example, members “talk about how literature, such as Dante’s Divine Comedy is a reflection of the time in which it was written,” Medieval Society Secretary Jill Warejko said.
If you are interested in exploring medieval culture with like-minded peers, the Medieval Society holds meetings on Monday nights at 9 p.m. in Burton 1 lounge.
Swain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.