WMU News

Conference addresses medieval studies concerns

Sept. 25, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The organization responsible for guiding collegiate medieval studies programs across the nation will convene at Western Michigan University in October, marking a rare opportunity for medievalists to make a fall visit to the site where they gather by the thousands each spring.

WMU's Medieval Institute will host the Medieval Academy of America's Committee on Centers and Regional Associations Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 4-6, for a meeting sub-titled "Kalamazoo is Not Just a Conference Anymore." Some 25 delegates, including the heads, chairpersons and professionals from medieval studies programs nationwide, will travel to Kalamazoo to discuss concerns and issues facing these programs.

Participants will focus on two key areas--resources available to medieval studies scholars and using new technologies--both of which WMU can boast as strengths of its medieval studies curriculum. Participants will tour the Edwin and Mary Meader Rare Book Room at Waldo Library, which houses many rare medieval manuscripts and texts. In addition, the delegation will tour the Visual Resources Library and participate in an exercise that shows the use of interactive television for distance learning.

This is the first time in its three decades of existence that CARA has held its fall business meeting at WMU. Dr. Paul E. Szarmach, director of the Medieval Institute, says the conference offers the institute a chance to showcase its resources and attributes to medieval scholars who may only know of WMU's program through the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies it hosts each year on the first weekend in May.

WMU is not only the site of the world's largest gathering of medieval scholars, attracting nearly 3,000 scholars annually, but it also was the first U.S. state-supported university to establish a master's degree program in medieval studies.

"After our May congress, some people walk away and say that they were locked in a room for four days and that is well and good, but what else is there? This conference intends to show the institute and its faculty, staff, and students do much more," says Szarmach. "We feel the presence of the CARA group is testimony to the importance our colleagues in the field attach to our program."

Media contact: Scott K. Crary, 616 387-8400

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