Scholars Revel in Discussions of “The Social Spectacle” April 27-28

April 18th, 2007 by Adam


Visit of the Gypsies,

c. 1510,Wood & Silk Tapestry

Maker Unknown (probably Tournai)

138 x 192 inches

Courtesy of the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

In the daily dance of Medieval and Renaissance life, each person—prince, priest and pauper, had a part to play. This interplay of individuals and institutions, the humble and the mighty, has the power to fascinate and enlighten even today.

The annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum at Plymouth State University provides many opportunities to discuss and explore themes of relevance to the Middle Ages.

The theme of the 28th Plymouth State University Medieval and Renaissance forum April 27 and 28 is “The Social Spectacle” and papers may cover many aspects of Medieval and Renaissance life, literature, languages, art, history and music.

Scholars from across the U.S., Canada, and other countries will discuss topics such as “Tournaments in Malory’s Le morte d’Arthur: Pageantry, Chivalry, Treachery” and “Artists’ Responses to Dante’s Commedia.”

The forum features a series of lectures, discussions, workshops, readings, symposia, performances and exhibitions, culminating in the annual medieval feast on Saturday night.

Onsite registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Rounds Hall on Summer Street. The Forum’s traditional opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 a.m. in front of Rounds Hall, and include a reading from Chaucer’s General Prologue and the singing of Gaudeamus Igitur. Dr. Naomi Kline, director of the forum, will welcome guests and Associate Director Matthew Rolph will officially open the festivities. In the case of inclement weather, the opening will be abbreviated or held elsewhere on campus.

Papers are presented in concurrent session blocks Friday from 10:10–11:45 a.m., 2:20–3:50 p.m. and 4–5 p.m.; and Saturday from 9:30–11 a.m., 1:15–2:45 p.m. and 3–4:30 p.m. The full schedule is online at

Friday’s luncheon (noon–2 p.m., Hartman Union Building multipurpose room on High Street) will feature a keynote address, “Identifying Medieval Composers: From the Anonymous and Humble to the Proud,” by Dr. Thomas Forrest Kelly, the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard University.

Also on Friday, members of the Medieval Society of Plymouth State University will host a live chess match at 2:20 p.m. on the Alumni Green in front of the student union building on High Street. A longbow archery demonstration is also tentatively planned at the PE Center on Holderness Road.

University President Sara Jayne Steen will host a reception for forum participants from 5:30–6:30 p.m. Friday at the President’s House on School Street.

Friday evening programming includes an honors dinner from 7–8:15 p.m including student Medieval Society awards and the coveted “Knight of the Forum” award, a statuette created by Plymouth artist and Professor of Art Emeritus Robert Morton. Limited public seating may be available for the awards portion of this event.

Friday programming will conclude with a performance by from 8:30–10 p.m. by The Shakespeare Guyz, David Zucker and Richard McElvain, who reveal Shakespeare’s brilliance with humor, costumes, swordfights and lots of audience participation. The event is free.

A highlight of programming on Saturday will be a special address from 11:30–1 p.m. during the luncheon, by Dr. Raymond Eichmann, professor emeritus of French at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Eichmann will speak on “The Spectacular Machines in Old French Drama.”

Forum festivities conclude Saturday evening with a traditional Medieval feast beginning with cocktails at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. Participants will gather for dinner and entertainment by Seven Times Salt, an early music chamber ensemble from Cambridge, Mass. Their specialty is the English consort repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries.

To register for Forum events, logon to or call Matt Rolph, associate director of the Forum at (603) 535-3253.