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Mediocrity: Finding the Middle Ground
Friday, February 22, 2019 (All day)

Class of 1978 Pavilion, Van Pelt Library, 3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19104


What made something “mediocre” in the Middle Ages? We often assume that if a manuscript, literary text, or work of visual or performance art has survived from the medieval period, it is exceptional in some way. But what of things that are just OK? What can this middle ground teach us about form, aesthetics, language, and reception? This conference seeks to examine unexceptional artistic productions in the Middle Ages, to consider what we can learn from medial texts and artifacts, and to critically assess the metrics by which we evaluate quality. We hope to challenge the spectrum endpoints of what has been labelled “good” or “bad” by searching for the middle ground.

This conference features ten graduate student presenters from a range of disciplines, an exhibit of manuscripts from the Penn collections, and a keynote address by Prof. Sonja Drimmer (UMass Amherst). Refreshments will be provided throughout the day. All activities are free and open to the public.

Conference website: https://middling-ages.tumblr.com. Please contact pennmedieval@gmail.com to register or for more information.