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Conference to explore colorful facets of life in 15th-century England

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 4/30/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Scholars will gather at the University of Illinois for a conference that will explore some of the spicier aspects of 15th-century England, including saints, sexualities, sieges and sins.

The event, which is open to the public and requires a registration fee, is scheduled for May 6 through 8 in the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana, and in the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana. It is held every three years on the Illinois campus.

Sponsors are the U. of I. Program in Medieval Studies and the department of English.

Co-organizers, both from the U. of I., are Robert Barrett, professor of English, and Michael Myers, lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. They have received strong support from Anne D. Hedeman, professor of art history at Illinois and director of the U. of I. Medieval Studies Program

Titles of papers to be delivered include “English Cuisine and Other Poisons,” “Sin Without Sanctions?” and “Aliens and Other Outsiders in Later Medieval Bristol.”

The keynote speaker is Pamela King, professor of medieval studies at the University of Bristol in England. Her talk is about rhetoric and English urban culture.”

According to Barrett, all of the papers will deal “in one way or another” with the culture of 15th-century England.

“We don’t have a theme more specific than that because we want to foster a cross-discipline conversation, just as the previous conferences have done.”

Even so, the topic of urban life “does seem to have organically emerged as a cross-panel focus,” Barrett said.

According to Hedeman, medieval studies are doing quite well in the United States and at Illinois.

Nationally, there are approximately 90 programs, centers and regional associations dedicated to medieval studies, she said, and Illinois’ program in its sixth year, “has already established rich research associations internationally, building on ongoing research collaborations between individual members of the program and their colleagues abroad.”

From 1999 to 2004, Illinois belonged to a “productive exchange” with medieval programs in Paris and Poitiers.

And for the past four years, Illinois’ medieval studies program has been involved in a research collaboration through the World Wide Universities Network, “which has brought us into a relationship with such well known medieval studies programs as those at the University of York and Leeds, the universities of Manchester and Bristol, and, on the continent, at Utrecht.”

“Because of the WUN exchange, seven Illinois graduate students have received funding to do research and work individually with internationally renowned scholars abroad,” Hedeman said, and nine students from abroad have come to work with members of our group.”

Hedeman said that Illinois faculty members are also involved in diverse research projects with colleagues at WUN universities.

Interest in “things medieval” also is growing with Illinois’ undergraduates, Hedeman said, noting that this year, five students contacted her about wanting to minor in medieval studies.

Later this spring, she and her colleagues will submit a proposal to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to establish a minor in medieval studies at Illinois.

Hedeman can be contacted at and 217-333-7103.