On Feb. 28, UMKC hosted the 39th annual meeting of the Mid-America Medieval Association, affectionately known as MAMA. The organization was established in 1977 by Dr. Jim Halls,emeritus faculty in history, and two professors from the University of Kansas to enhance medieval studies in the Midwest region. Dr. Virginia Blanton, MAMA President and Chair and Professor of English language and literature at UMKC, organized the event.
“Over a hundred people attended the conference,” Blanton said, “despite the snow.”
The day consisted of the presentations of a series of papers on medieval topics, with the overall theme being “Collectivity and Exchange.” Content ranged from the temporal range of the 8th to the 18th century and from Constantinople to Iberia geographically. Blanton said the Medieval Studies Society, an SGA-chartered club, was instrumental in organizing the meeting, and that both undergraduate and graduate students worked to make it a success.
UMKC had nine graduate students present their works at the conference. Two of these presenters, Melissa Morris and Chainy Folsom, focused on paleography, the study of ancient handwriting.
“It’s always a pleasure to be around others interested in Medieval Europe,” Folsom said. “The guest speakers are always at the top of their fields, everyone is enthusiastic and ready to share their passion. It is a wonderful conference.”
Morris has attended the conference for the last three years. According to her, this year’s event boasted the largest number of attendees, with one presenter traveling all the way from Poland.
A third student speaker, Michael McCloud, presented a paper entitled “The Clouded Mirror: Reflections of Medieval Knighthood through the Satire of the Tournament of Tottenham.” His paper examined a humorous piece from 1400 A.D. that lampooned knightly tournaments.
“We have a really strong community of medieval scholars around the KC region, and MAMA gives us an opportunity to hone our craft and share our knowledge with one another,” McCloud said. “I think that students need to know the strength that UMKC has in Medieval studies. There are some huge names in the field that work right here.”
If you are a medieval history buff, it is highly recommended that you look into MAMA, and maybe even attend the next conference. Unfortunately, UMKC only gets to host this event on odd-numbered years. So until 2017, we’ll just have to remind ourselves that MAMA is coming.