SMC Hosts Medieval Matters Conference

Medieval Studies Conference Draws Students to SMC

Dr. Dalicia Raymond oversees a session at the Medieval Matters conference.

Baker Maultsby

Contributing Writer

Students at Spartanburg Methodist College know Dr. Dalicia Raymond as a professor who encourages them to take chances, to work hard, and find their own voice.

She is also known for her love of the Medieval period – a topic she makes come alive in the classroom.

Dr. Raymond combined these two things to create a special opportunity for students at SMC and other colleges to explore Medieval history and culture and showcase their own work in the field.

With support from SMC administrators, her faculty colleagues, and the Lorraine Kochanske Stock Grant from the Southeastern Medieval Association, Dr. Raymond launched “Medieval Matters: An Undergraduate Research Conference” in March at SMC.

“This was a great opportunity to showcase the incredible research undergraduate students at SMC and other institutions are completing and to come together to share and learn collaboratively,” Dr. Raymond said.

Attendees took part in interdisciplinary research discussions, a “lightning research presentation” contest with cash prizes, and casual conversation and networking opportunities.

There were also hands-on workshops for participants to make chainmail and illuminated manuscript letters – the iconic Medieval art we see in museums and movies.

“Two of my biggest goals for this event were to increase general interest in Medieval Studies and to offer an opportunity for undergraduate students to connect with others who shared that interest,” Dr. Raymond said.

In addition to students from SMC, the conference attracted participants from several colleges in the region, including College of Charleston, Lander University, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, University of Georgia, and more.

“I was thrilled with the outcome of the conference—we had 75 people in attendance that day, which speaks to the level of interest and excitement around the event and the subject,” Dr. Raymond said.

Student presenters covered a variety of topics focused on the Medieval period, discussing everything from supernatural characters to religion of the period to Medieval influencers.

Dr. Raymond was pleased by the variety of research presentations and the way the students handled speaking to attendees and taking questions about their work.

“I wanted to provide an opportunity for undergraduate students to practice and develop their professional skills. Based on the feedback I received, the presenters now feel more confident in their presentation and networking skills,” she said.

While Dr. Raymond took a lead role in planning the conference, she credits the contributions of several SMC faculty and staff members, including physics professor Dr. Judy Mirick, who led the chainmail workshop.

Making chainmail jewelry, such as bracelets, is one of her hobbies. She provided materials and basic instruction for participants during morning and afternoon sessions.

Dr. Mirick also gave historical context about chainmail. It was an effective mesh armor for military use, but because materials were expensive, it was “for really rich people of the time.”

A physics professor collaborating with a member of the English department on a project that would seem geared toward history enthusiasts: that’s the kind of cross-curricular connection that happens at SMC.

“I know faculty members from departments across campus, and I love that we can intermingle and find opportunities to work together,” Dr. Mirick said.

Dr. Raymond pointed to the contributions of several other faculty members and staff – from dining services to IT – and made special mention of the SMC theatre program, led by Dr. Kate Roark.

Following the academic portion of the conference, attendees were treated to a performance of “Everybody,” a modern adaptation of the 15th Century morality play “Everyman.”

“It was an incredible performance, and it tied into the Medieval focus of the conference,” Dr. Raymond said.

Several SMC students helped in planning the conference and worked as volunteers.

Hannah Autry, a junior from Spartanburg, enjoyed helping with the chainmail workshop. She’s an accounting major but has enjoyed Dr. Raymond’s literature courses.

“She’s an amazing professor,” Autry said. “When I took her Medieval Lit class, we made illuminated letters. She makes it fun, and her passion goes a long way.”

Dr. Raymond said she hopes to host another Medieval Studies conference in the future or possibly partner with other colleges in the region to create an annual, rotating event.

“As SMC continues to grow as a four-year college with new, innovative Bachelor of Arts programs, hosting an event like this embodies our unique approach of integrating professional development into a strong liberal arts education,” Dr. Raymond said.

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