CamMedSem Student Workshop Review (Lent 21)

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Bex Courtier (she/her)
On Behalf of CamMedSem

MAR 18, 2020

Session: 4th Mar
Discussion Workshop

The second student workshop organised by the Cambridge Medieval Literature & Culture Seminar (“CamMedSem”) ran on 4th March 2021. The format of this session was more informal, as it fell during the third period of lockdown in the UK (due to COVID-19). Participants prepared brief points on a certain aspect, topic, or text associated with their ongoing research for Year Abroad Projects, Optional Dissertations, or MPhil theses. Student presentations were followed by group conversation. The aim of this workshop was to provide an open space for the exchange of ideas and friendly, constructive feedback, while giving medieval-minded researchers the chance to come together (virtually) as a community during these difficult times. Indeed, medievalists from various stages of their academic careers (doctoral students, early career researchers, lecturers, specialist palaeographers) were in attendance.

At the session, student presentations covered literature spanning centuries and genres from medieval France, Occitania, and Italy. The works and figures touched upon across the five papers all drew, in some way, on the notion of ‘boundaries’, both cultural and textual. The first paper explored the fictional persona of the Emperor Charlemagne, with Charli Foreman (they/them) meditating on relationships between literature and history, as well as the importance of this figure for questions of identity and community across time. The focus of the second paper, given by Erin Hudson (she/her), was the ambiguous depiction of giants in medieval French literature; building on the work of Sylvia Huot (2016), Hudson’s paper brought human-giant relations in dialogue with more modern understandings of colonial ideologies. The third paper was delivered by a CamMedSem regular, Salil Navapurkar (he/him), whose research engaged Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism to shed new light on texts of the Albigensian Crusade. The fourth paper, during which Susie Tucker (she/her) presented her work, continued the discussion of dialogism by examining sacred/secular and orthodox/heretical divides and crossings in Occitan poetry. The fifth and final paper, given by Becky Reilly (she/her), afforded further contemplation of the meeting of sacred and secular discourses, with focus on the language of love, desire, and the erotic in lyric poetry from late medieval Italy. The subsequent discussion centred around unexpected (and fascinating) connections to be made between papers, as well as suggestions for further reading.

It was great to see students speak so enthusiastically about their research topics. The convenors at CamMedSem are looking forward to future workshops, and seeing what students will be working on, in the next academic year. Stay tuned!

Bex Courtier (she/her)
On Behalf of CamMedSem

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