Drop your preconceived ideas. The global universe in which we live today is not a modern invention. It’s as old as time.
This, says Mary Bjork, assistant professor of English at Arizona State University, is one of many topics that are open for presentation, discussion and exploration at the second annual undergraduate conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, “Discipuli Juncti: Students Connected Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The lecture is scheduled to take place on the West Campus of ASU on October 30 and is presented by the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences of the University and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS), a tri-university research center (ASU, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University) on the Tempe campus of ASU.
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Before that, however, comes the call for papers and presentations, the very purpose of the fall conference.
“This is an opportunity for undergraduates who are interested in medieval or Renaissance culture to present their research or project to a group of peers and others,” says Bjork, faculty member of the Department of Humanities, Arts and Culture of New College on the West Campus.
“More and more, students are called upon to professionalize themselves earlier and earlier. Graduate schools and vocational programs seek applicants who have demonstrated commitment to their fields of study. This conference was intended as a way to help give students the confidence to seriously think about presenting themselves as professionals.
The deadline for submitting a short 200-word abstract for a 15-20 minute presentation is July 31, and spring 2009 graduates are still eligible to participate.
Last year’s inaugural conference brought together 30 students from ASU and universities in Kansas, Ohio, Florida, Texas and Canada, who presented research on topics ranging from Beowulf to Milton . The top three papers were selected for presentation at the ACMRS International Conference last February, a practice that will continue this year. This year’s top conference papers will also be published online on the ACMRS website, www.asu.edu/clas/acmrs.
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Latin discipuli juncti translates to “connected students”.
“We wanted a name that reflects the importance of student contact that is at the heart of this business and the multidisciplinary nature of the conference while recognizing its placement in the Middle Ages and Renaissance,” Bjork explains. “In the years roughly between the 5th century and the 17th century, Latin enabled people who otherwise would not have shared a language to communicate with each other. “
Bjork says that the study of the Middle Ages, generally dated from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century until the beginning of the modern period in the 16th century, and from the Renaissance, a European cultural movement that emerged is extended from the 14th to the 17th century, is important for better understanding the world we live in today and even what lies ahead.
“Premodern studies are by definition world studies,” says Bjork, a member of the editorial board of the Mediterranean Studies Association, who is working on a book on Renaissance playwright John Fletcher. “The way we understand borders and identity grew out of those times. Many of the conflicts in which the world is still engaged today – Islam versus Christianity, for example – originated centuries ago.
“During the Renaissance, traders in general tended to care less about a person’s national or religious identity than to get a good deal, even if this activity was done to the detriment of people with whom they shared cultural values. . As we reflect on how multinational corporations operate today, it starts to sound very familiar.
“By understanding the ways in which people of the past attempted to make sense of the world they lived in, we have a better chance of making sense of our own time and even, perhaps, of negotiating a more sustainable future and more equitable. “
Students submitting an abstract and an application form will be notified of acceptance by August 31st. Once accepted, prior to the conference, each student will work with a faculty mentor who will advise and help develop the student’s plan for a conference-level presentation. . Submissions for articles on any topic and in any format, including visual and sound media, or any form of creative research, are welcome.
Bjork says she expects this year’s conference to attract more students and has already received requests from potential attendees from ASU and universities in California, Ohio and New York.
The talk is an extension of a talk she was invited to give by former ASU faculty associate Maria-Claudia Tomany, who is now a full professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Bjork’s presentation coincided with the university’s undergraduate research conference.
“Attending this conference, which involved all disciplines and fields, from humanities to science and everything in between, inspired me to try a similar thing here at ASU,” Bjork said, adding that the ACMRS was a driving force behind the success of the inaugural West Campus conference.
“The skills required to take an idea from its inception and through the stages of research, writing, feedback, revision and public presentation are invaluable to all disciplines,” says Bjork. “Students who presented papers at the first conference reported that the experience had emboldened them as academics and future professionals.
“Our primary goal, ultimately, is the highest quality experience possible for our undergraduates.”
For more information, including tips on how to prepare an abstract, visit the ACMRS website at http://acmrs.org/conferences/Undergrad%20Conference/Discipuli%20Juncti.html.”>http : //acmrs.org/conferences /Undergrad%20Conference/Discipuli%20Juncti.h …