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Medieval festival brings Middle Ages to campus

The term Dark Ages does not accurately depict the Medieval period, according to Jonathan Himes, associate professor of English. Hosted in the Soderquist Business Center today from 3:00-6:00 p.m., this year’s Medieval Faire will display examples of the innovations and customs credited to Medieval times.

Split into groups of two and three people each, Himes’ Medieval Literature class began planning the event six weeks ago. Each group will set up a booth and share different aspects of the Medieval era.

Participants will have the opportunity to visit the cult of the saints, take part in an excavation, drink non-alcoholic mead, eat venison, watch a puppet show retelling the life of Marie de France and observe illuminated manuscripts.

“The faire’s not only meant to be informative, but interactive and a recreation of medieval life,” Medieval Literature student Cori Hunt said.

Students have designed their booths to be as authentically medieval as possible.

“It’s a genuine replica,” medieval student Makayla Schultz said of the crypt she and Hunt are designing. “We’re trying to create things as closely as we can to the medieval times.”

Himes’ students will host the event as a class project designed to share the knowledge they learn through their readings with a wider audience.

“For the public, I jokingly call this week Medieval Awareness Week,” Himes said. “We want to share the kind of learning we do in higher education in an exciting way so people can see the kind of research and specialized knowledge we acquire. When we’re learning about literature, it really brings the readings to life if we learn about the culture and context.”

Himes said many people today misconstrue the events of the Medieval Ages.

“There were just a lot of exciting things about the med ages that were not dark at all,” Himes said. “We think of the Germanic tribes and Vikings as barbarian. In some ways, they were very advanced. They had technology we don’t know about. In a virtual age, the value of looking at the Medieval Ages is to see what you can do with yourself and with your own hands in order to do something you can be proud of that doesn’t require computers.”

Himes’ class invited roughly 100 schools to attend the faire.

In the past, the Medieval Literature class co-hosted the event with the history department. Yet this year’s class of 28 students, as the largest Medieval Literature class in the past 10 years, will host entirely by themselves.

“We have a greater variety of booth themes this year,” Himes said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the students’ creativity and how they tie their presentations into the literature.”