On Tuesday evening Penn medievalists and early modernists kicked off the new academic year with the annual Welcome Back reception and the first Penn Medieval Studies program of the year: a panel discussion on “Why the Middle Ages Matter.” In addition to questioning the question, Rebecca Winer (Villanova University), Matthew Boyd Goldie (Rider University), Elly Truitt (Bryn Mawr College), John Haldon (Princeton University), and our own director Will Noel offered a variety of answers:
* the Middle Ages are relevant to the politics of Europe and the Middle East today
* the Middle Ages are NOT relevant in many ways, meaning they offer the challenge of entirely foreign conceptual frameworks
* the Middle Ages are part of mainstream culture through the medievalism of popular literature and games
* the challenge of understanding people distant from us in time prepares us to understand people who are distant from us in other ways
* historical studies sensitize us to the uses and abuses of history in politics today
* the interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies challenges specialists to make their projects matter to a wider audience
* we love the Middle Ages, they are a part of us.
Why DO the Middle Ages matter (to you)? Add your comments!