Two students have had abstracts accepted to the Moravian College Undergraduate Conference on Medieval Studies. Emily Aguilar ‘22, a Classical Languages major, and Elinor Berger ‘22, an English major, will attend the conference on December 7 to present their papers.
The Medieval Studies is one of many undergraduate conferences hosted by Moravian College. The conference will involve three sessions of paper presentations, as well as a plenary lecture by Bryn Mawr professor of Medieval history Elly Truitt. Her talk is titled “Demons and Divination: Artificial Intelligence Before AI”.
Elinor Berger: “Deep Within a Fairy Forest: An analysis of the conflation of the fairy otherworld with the Roman underworld in Middle English Romance.”
Fairy lore in medieval romance often merges British folklore with Greco-Roman classics. Relating British culture to an already well-established and academic canon. Consistent parallels are made between the classical underworld and the fairy “otherworld,” whether that otherworld is the Arthurian “Avalon” or the Irish “Tír na nÓg.” These parallels not only emerge through scenery and theme but also through the recycling of characters such as Pluto and Prosperpina. The use of Greco-Roman imagery in the context of the Middle English Romance indicates a cultural shift towards appreciating and validating folklore which had been previously barred from academic study. By evaluating the conflation of the fairy otherworld with the underworld, and the cultural implications of such a conflation, we can determine the reason as to how and why fairy lore became such a staple in British culture in later centuries and led to the creation of fairy myths that are still being retold and reenacted today.
Emily Aguilar: “Masculinity, Power, and Death: Cleopatra in Boccaccio’s De Mulieribus Claris”
While the Roman Republic collapsed, Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt as the most powerful woman in the world. Nearly 1400 years later, Giovanni Boccaccio wrote De Mulieribus Claris to honor women who overcame the limitations of their sex with a “manly spirit” (virilus animus). However, Cleopatra was a puzzle to Boccaccio: while she undeniably displayed the “manly”characteristics of intelligence and bravery, Boccaccio’s Roman sources portrayed her as an uncontrollable corrupting influence. In this paper I will explore Cleopatra’s masculinity and power in De Mulieribus Claris, specifically through her interactions with men. Because Boccaccio’s intended audience was educated men, Cleopatra could not seem to justify female sexuality and ambition, lest she be seen as a threat to her male reader’s power. The result is a vilified and demeaned Cleopatra, who must be destroyed by honorable men.