Assistant Professor Creates Medieval Studies Conference
A dream to create a student conference on Medieval and Renaissance studies has become reality for Alma College’s Dana Aspinall.
The first Medieval and Renaissance Studies Consortium is a result of a lot of hard work and enthusiasm by the Shakespeare scholar and assistant professor of English.
The conference provides an opportunity for undergraduate students at Michigan colleges and universities to read or present their research projects on topics dealing with Medieval or Renaissance art, history, literature, philosophy or religious studies.
“I brought the idea from Assumption College in Massachusetts, where I taught for 10 years before coming to Alma,” says Aspinall. “I wanted to organize a similar conference for Michigan schools, so I contacted other Shakespeare professors to ascertain their interest and then sent out a proposal.”
The response has been gratifying. Thirty-two students from six schools — including 11 students from Alma College, more than any other institution — will present their research at the March 27 conference at Adrian College. The conference will rotate to different campus locations, with Alma College hosting it in 2012.
“We are starting slowly,” he says. “We wanted all disciplines represented, not just literature or Shakespeare. We accepted presentations in history, philosophy, religious studies, art and cultural studies.”
Students at 11 Michigan colleges and universities were invited last fall to submit 200-word abstracts of papers or projects for which they would give a 15-minute presentation. Paper topics are organized into panels moderated by a faculty member from one of the participating schools. A 20-minute question-and-answer period accompanies each panel.
“The consortium will help students who are going on to graduate or law school to understand more clearly the requirements and purpose of sustained research, the challenges and rewards inherent in public presentation, the skills necessary in defending their research and answering questions, and the responsibilities implicit in the pursuit of an advanced degree,” says Aspinall.
The Middle Ages and Early Modern era — often referred to as the Medieval and Renaissance periods, respectively — comprise the time of European history from the fall of the Roman Empire to 1660, says Aspinall.
“I’m pleased with how the consortium has come together,” says Aspinall. “I started it, but the planning has really been a joint venture among the participating schools. I anticipate it will grow over the years and become a part of the academic calendar at Alma.”
Future plans include adding a keynote speaker and awards for best papers.
Other participating institutions include Adrian College, Albion College, Grand Valley Sate University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Olivet College, Saint Mary’s College, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.
Participating Alma College students who plan to present their research include Ann Arbor senior Stephanie Bens, Indianapolis sophomore Simone Boos, Howell freshman Meghan Cheyne, Perry junior Anna Dysinger, Elwell senior Melody Germain, Canton senior Ashley Hennen, Sanford sophomore Sarah Menz, Fostoria junior Adam Muncy, Beverly Hills sophomore Rachel Ann Sylwestrzak, Petoskey junior Lauren Sypniewski, and Sylvan Lake sophomore Allison Zink.
Posted: Mon, March 1st, 2010 at 1:08PM