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Medieval and Renaissance Forum in Keene State College

Now officially in its forty-fifth year, the Medieval and Renaissance Forum saw its beginnings at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. From the very first, the Medieval and Renaissance Forum united all lovers of the Middle Ages and the early modern. The Forum is very much an interdisciplinary event, and historians and scholars of literature mingle with art historians, linguists, and experts in various other disciplines. Each year, a theme is selected, and, while participants are encouraged to submit paper proposals on the selected theme, they can also present on the medieval or early modern topic of their choice. The event also includes a keynote lecture connected to the conference theme. Not to mention the Feast, which has concluded every single Forum for forty-four years!

At the completion of the 35th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum, the conference moved from Plymouth State University to its sister institution, Keene State College, the public liberal arts college located in the city of Keene at the southernmost point of New Hampshire. Despite the reversals inherent to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forum continues to thrive. While the pandemic made it harder for many of our long-time participants to continue to travel to New England each April, the pandemic also gave us new tools. The Forum is now a hybrid event, making it possible for more international presenters to attend and participate in the conference.

Over the course of the past six years, the Forum has been dedicated to the study of the five senses. Although the focus on the five senses officially ended in 2023, this year’s theme, “The Mystical, the Supernatural, and All Things Unexplained in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance,” addressed the belief in a sixth sense. The theme drew a lot of interest, with a large number of Forum participants deriving inspiration from our focus on the uncanny. Although smaller in a post-COVID world, the Forum still boasts approximately forty presenters and participants, in-person and remotely, from all over the globe. The keynote address, “Whiteness, Borders, and the Otherworld: Yvain in the Global North Atlantic,” a lecture both thought-provoking and extremely engaging, was delivered on the afternoon of Friday, April 12 by Dr. Nahir Otaño Gracia of the University of New Mexico. It was followed that evening by a reading by long-time Forum participant Dr. Sharon Healy-Yang of her mystery fiction at the local Toadstool Bookshop. After one more day full of exciting presentations—including that delivered remotely by Davood Khazaie, “The Erosion of Public and Private Spheres in Richard III: A Hannah Arendt Perspective”—the 44th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum concluded with the traditional Medieval Feast.

At the end of May, planning has already begun for the 45th Medieval and Renaissance Forum, tentatively titled “Brave New Worlds: Retelling the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.” More details will be coming soon as we plan for our forty-fifth annual meeting!

Prof. Dr. Meriem Pages (Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Forum)

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