Medieval Expo goes from strength to strength

For the second year running, first year history students in Medieval Europe have worked in teams to produce public history projects that communicate about the medieval past to a wide audience. 

Beware Medieval Women! (photo by Stephanie Jury)
Beware of Medieval Women! (photo by Stephanie Jury)

This year’s presentations included an impressive array of videos, posters, podcasts and educational websites, including some that provide teaching resources such as crosswords and quizzes for secondary teachers engaging with medieval curricula. Some highlights included a light-hearted video on medieval women and gendered attitudes, described by the student producers as ‘horrible histories for grown ups’; an animated adventure into the experience of medieval childhood;  a ‘talk-back radio’ style interview with leaders and participants  in the children’s crusades; and an interactive website exploring medieval Islamic society. CMRS Director, Associate Professor Peter Howard, who opened the expo, congratulated students on their impressive and innovative work.

A/Prof Peter Howard declares the Clayton expo open (photo by Anne Holloway)
A/Prof Peter Howard declares the Clayton expo open (photo by Hannah Fulton)

The task is designed to encourage students to cultivate sophisticated communication skills and team work abilities alongside their growing historical awareness, and the 2016 cohort did themselves proud in rising to this challenge. It’s also intended to enable students to stretch their creativity, and to have fun with the task itself. The excitement on the day is increased by people’s choice awards for the most popular displays, and prizes for the best costume. 

Doing it tough in the stocks (photo by Jude Jennings)
Doing it tough in the stocks (photo by Jude Jennings)

This year, at Clayton, “The Monash-try” won the People’s Choice Award for their interactive poster on Inquisition, and Honourable Mention went to “The Society of Peasants” for their animation on childhood; costume prizes went to “Hanged, Drawn and Quartered”, a team whose dedication extended to bringing along plastic fruit to thrown at their man in the stocks, and Ruby Hunter, who dazzled as a noble lady. At Caulfield, the People’s Choice Award went to “Lack of References” for a project on peasant women presented in the form of a giant manuscript book, and the Honourable Mention was awarded to “The Crowd Serfers” for their presentation on women’s fashion and textiles in their social context. “The Crowd Serfers” also won the team award for best costume, while Seb Contos was awarded best individual costume for his preacher ensemble.

The expo format enables students to examine, discuss and celebrate each other’s work, and also draws keen audience participation from across the Faculty of Arts, the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, and its enthusiastic partners in Library and Learning Skills. Honours and postgraduate students, lecturers, librarians, and education designers came along to see the wonderful work on display, and talk to the students about their experiences in pulling together such a major project. The buzz was palpable in the room over the two days, and we can only hope this motivates students to go on to further historical studies, or at least, to put their new found skills into practice again in future.

You can relive the expo’s presence on social media (#medexpo16) on Storify, by clicking here.

An enthusiastic bunch of costumed staff and students at Clayton (photo by Matt Chen)
An enthusiastic bunch of costumed staff and students at Clayton (photo by Matt Chen)