Post-Festival Wrap Up

Thank you for attending the 2018 MEMS Festival – we’re thrilled that this year’s MEMS fest was the biggest yet and can’t wait to see how it continues to grow. 

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The Eastbridge Hospital gardens

We’re putting photos from the weekend onto our Facebook page, and you can see tweets from the weekend by looking through our hashtag (linked here), but here’s a glimpse of MEMS fest by the numbers: 

57 presentations during…

…6 panel sessions

4 boxes of macaroons

11 volunteers (whose help was greatly appreciated)

20 books on display in the Kent Archives

10+ cute little animals photographed during the “Pens and Pigments” workshop

Innumerable tweets throughout the weekend

12 broadswords used in the HEMA workshop

5 types of Middle English punctuation marks on display

0 scenes from Othello (sorry)

And 6 members of the organizing committee who hope you all had a fabulous time.

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Sightseeing in Canterbury

With just two days until MEMS Fest 2018 begins, we hope you are looking forward to visiting the medieval city of Canterbury.

Whether it’s your first time, or you may just have some spare time whilst joining us this week, here are a few of the city’s medieval and Early Modern hot spots to keep you occupied during your visit …

Canterbury Cathedral

Explore the Gothic and Romanesque architecture of Canterbury Cathedral and walk in the footsteps of thousands of pilgrims that visited the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket during the Middle Ages.

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St. Augustine’s Abbey

Just beyond the Cathedral – a short 10 minute walk away – lay the ruins that remain of St. Augustine’s Abbey. Why not take a visit and for all those English heritage members amongst us, entry is free.

St. Martins Church

A World Heritage Site and claimed to be the oldest working church in the English speaking world. This hidden gem is just around the corner from St. Augustine’s and often easy to miss – we challenge you to find it.

Westgate Gardens

Undoubtedly, an iconic image of Canterbury … and one that certainly won’t disappoint. Take a walk along the River Stour surrounded by beautiful gardens or even opt for an alternative view of the city on a historical boat tour.

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The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge

Located in the heart of the city centre, the Beaney is a definite stopping point to learn about Canterbury’s history. Free to enter, it is wise to reserve a couple of hours to roam around the galleries, library and exhibitions.

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We look forward to greeting you all this week and we hope you enjoy this city as much as we do … but don’t get too carried away with the beautiful sites (we know it is tempting). Remember that registration begins at 9.00am on Friday morning and if you haven’t already, do check out the programme here.

Accessibility at #MEMSfest18

As the committee finalizes the last few details of this year’s MEMS Festival, we wanted to share more about the accessibility of each of our Festival venues.

MEMS Fest 2018 will be held in the Grimond Building on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus. You can find directions to and around campus, as well as maps, on our Directions page.

A brief overview of the building is detailed below:

  • The entire conference is taking place on the ground floor, with step-free access into all rooms;
  • Motorised wheelchairs are permitted;
  • There are automatic doors into the main building, but not the lecture theatre and seminar rooms;
  • There is no hearing assistance system in any of the rooms;
  • There is an accessible bathroom on the ground floor.

Full accessibility details for the Grimond Building is available on DisabledGo.

Our wine reception will be held in the Franciscan Gardens at Eastbridge Hospital. The closest car parks are Whitefriars and St Radigunds, and the closest bus stop is on St Dunstan’s Street, opposite Café du Soleil. There are no steps into the gardens, but the path is very uneven. The garden itself is grass and gravel, and has benches.

The conference dinner is taking place in Café du Soleil in the centre of town, which has a car park and step-free access into the building. The dinner will be held on the first floor, which is up a flight of steps with no lift access. Café du Soleil does not use peanuts or groundnut oil in any of their cooking.

There will be an alternative group going to The Dolphin Pub. This has a small step to enter, and a short set of steps leading into the garden.

Information for Speakers:

MEMS Fest is a great place to share ideas with scholars from all kinds of backgrounds. Our priority as a committee is to make sure all our attendees feel comfortable and engaged. While preparing for MEMS Fest, please consider the needs of those who may be visually impaired or dyslexic when making your presentation. (Remember, PowerPoint Presentations are due via email by 12 June!)

Additionally, as there is no hearing assistance system, it would be helpful if you would be willing to offer a written copy of your paper for those who require it due to hearing difficulties, auditory processing issues, or language difficulties. This does not need to be in hard copy, but please be understanding if someone asks you to email a copy of your paper to them following the presentation.

We look forward to meeting you in just over a week’s time! Until then, please do get in touch if you have further questions about this year’s Festival.

 

Festival Programme Now Available

With just under two weeks til #MEMSfest2018, the organizing committee is pleased to announce that this year’s Festival programme is now available for your viewing pleasure. You can find a copy of the programme, as well as a complete list of abstracts, linked in this post or by clicking the “About” and then the “Programmes” button at the top of the site.

While normal and late registration are now closed, we are offering a limited number of tickets to the MEMS Festival on the day that will allow you to join us for paper sessions and workshops.

If you’re attending MEMS Fest as a speaker or auditor, you’ll receive a printed copy of the full programme when you arrive at registration. The abstract document will be available online throughout the Festival, and we’ll make sure to share the link on Facebook and Twitter, as well as including a QR code and link in the programme itself.

We look forward to seeing you in Canterbury soon!

Registration Now Open

What an exciting day! Online registration for #MEMSfest18 is officially open.

Just like last year, you can complete your registration quickly and easily on your computer via EventBrite — no forms to download or emails to send. You can find the 2018 registration form by clicking on the linked text in this blog post or by using the Registration link posted to our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Please note: if you proposed a full panel abstract that was accepted, each member of the panel will need to complete the registration form.

Today is also the day that Bursary Applications open! If you’re interested in applying for a bursary to help defray the cost of travel or accommodation, you’ll need to visit the Travel Bursaries page in the drop down menu below the Registration link. You’ll be able to download a PDF or Word Document version of the application, which you’ll need to fill out and email to us at memsfestival@gmail.com by 25 May. (Please use the subject line: Bursary Application.)

Successful applicants will be notified before the Festival begins, but due to the way MEMS Fest receives funding we’re not able to offer reimbursement until after the event has closed. We do understand that this can be inconvenient when trying to book tickets and rooms, but we promise there will be a quick turnaround!

Do remember that both registration and bursary applications close on Friday, 25 May. Late registration will remain open until Friday, 1 June, but we cannot guarantee that space will still be available in workshops or at the Festival dinner. Bursary applications will not be accepted after 25 May.

Once you’ve submitted your registration, make sure you ‘follow’ and ‘like’ the MEMS Fest Facebook and Twitter accounts; we’ll be posting and tweeting in the run-up to the Festival and during the event as well.

If you have any questions or need any guidance on the registration process, you can check our FAQ page or send us an email. We look forward to seeing you in June!

Meet the MEMS Fest Team

Wondering who read your abstract submission? Who’s creating the schedule? Who’s making sure there will be enough lunch for everyone? As we get closer to #MEMSfest18, we wanted to introduce ourselves so that you know who you’re in contact with already and who to look for when you arrive at the University of Kent.

Organizing the Festival is a collaborative effort and the committee changes yearly. This year’s team is made up of six students who are currently studying for degrees in the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Kent. Keep reading to learn more about the people making MEMS Fest happen!

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Angela is a first year PhD student, researching a scheme of hidden Gothic mural paintings (c. 1310) within the parish church of Faversham in Kent.

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Anna is a first year PhD student, researching violence and language in early modern revenge tragedies.

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Han is a first year PhD student, researching 12th century French sculpture and representations of fear.

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Jack is second year PhD student, researching political corruption in the 14th century.

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Lucy is an MA student, researching medieval art and pilgrim artefacts.

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Noah is a first year PhD student, researching visual and written accounts of the Franco-Flemish War (1297 – 1305).

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We’re looking forward to welcoming you to MEMS Fest in June! In the meantime, be sure to watch this space (and our Twitter and Facebook pages) for information on registration and travel bursaries starting Friday, 20 April.

New FAQ Page

Preparing for a conference always leads to loads of questions, ranging from “where do I go when I arrive” to “should I bring anything along to the panel presentations”. In an effort to alleviate some of those worries, we’ve added a new page to our site today, located in the drop down menu below the About link and linked right here; it’s filled with questions you might be asking yourself and answers from the #MEMSfest18 organizing committee.

This page should be considered a work-in-progress. While it’s ready for you to use now (with links to more information when applicable), it will be updated throughout the run-up to the Festival. If one of your questions doesn’t appear, please do contact us via email and we’ll do our best to help. We may even add your question to the FAQ page if we think it will be useful for other Festival goers!

Medieval Combat Workshop Announcement

“This you should grasp: All arts have length and measure. Whatever you undertake, use deliberation. In earnest or in play, be of good cheer and vitality, so you may be attentive and with good courage ponder what action you should take, so that none may touch you, since good courage and strength make your enemies hesitate.”
– Johannes Liechtenauer, The Zettel

The art of the sword is alive and well in the modern era. Small revivalist groups—mostly eccentrics and academics—found a renewed interest in medieval martial arts as recently as the 19th century, when swordsmanship was still a vital tool in the repertoire of military men and aristocratic gentlemen alike. The Victorian obsession with medieval aesthetic brought such interests into vogue, if not mainstream popularity. Though once a niche interest, the advent of the internet in the 1990’s allowed HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) to really take off, undergoing a renaissance that endures to this day. HEMA groups can be found across Europe, North America, and Australia, and are comprised of dedicated teachers and students who exchange a working knowledge of late medieval fighting manuals, with the earliest dating to the latter half of the 14th century.

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Johannes Liechtenauer, Codex 44A.8

The interplay between HEMA and mainstream academia is only growing stronger as the discipline (sport for some, practice for others) continues to produce passionate experts who have dedicated their time to furthering our knowledge of a raft of late medieval and Renaissance texts. It is in this spirit that we are pleased to announce that Kent’s own Thanet Fecht Schule will be running a workshop at MEMS Festival 2018. In addition to the hands-on, hour long introduction to longsword and dagger, Jason Hulott—the club’s leader—will be giving a lecture on German combat manuscripts from the 13th to 15th century.

We visited Jason at their weekly club meeting in Broadstairs and asked him a couple questions.

For the uninitiated, what is HEMA?

Jason: HEMA—Historical European Martial Arts—is a collective name for weapon based and unarmed based training systems that have been documented and taught from as early as the early medieval period. As much as most people know there are eastern martial arts, there is now documentary evidence from across Europe that systems were developed for military, courtly and civilian use. There are systems from Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the UK.

HEMA has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, what do you think attracts people to the practice?

Jason: I think the fascination with swords combined with the access to manuscripts has really opened up this area. It is huge and growing every day as people research and recode these manuscripts and then try to interpret them. There is something for everyone. There is the historical aspect, the research, the training and the combat elements.

Could you describe the disciplines you train in at Thanet Fecht School?

Jason: We follow the German historical tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer. This is the early part of the German system and dates from around 1380. Weapons-wise the system covers longsword, dagger, staff, poleaxe, messer (long knife), sword and buckler, and ringen (wrestling). Our main practice is longsword, then dagger and messer.

What can people expect at the workshop you’ll be running at MEMS Fest?

Jason: At MEMS Fest I want to give participants a look at the systems and how it would work in real terms. As it is a small workshop it will be single practice, learning how to cut and parry. We will explore the five meisterhau and four hangings which form the cornerstone of the system.

The tentative date for the Thanet Fecht Schule HEMA Workshop is Saturday, June 16th. There will be room for fifteen participants on a first come, first served basis when registration opens. In the event that the workshop spaces fill up, seating will be provided for audience members.

You can learn more about the Thanet Fecht Schule at their website.

MEMS Fest Memories

Wondering what it’s like to attend MEMS Fest as an undergraduate student? Here’s a guest post from one of our current committee members, Lucy (pictured below), who presented at the 2017 Festival. 

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Photo by Dr Emily Guerry

Presenting your paper at an academic festival may sound incredibly daunting, or it may be something you’ve never even considered before. As undergraduate students we share an image of conferences as formal affairs that are exclusive for lecturers and PhD experts … but my experience during my final year as an undergraduate giving a paper at the two-day MEMS Fest in 2017 broke from this initial idea.

After submitting my 250-word application in March last year proposing to discuss my dissertation topic, I was still unsure at that moment in time what my ultimate thesis was. Yet, I am so glad it didn’t prevent me from applying. Three months later, at the time of the festival, I found my knowledge in the subject had developed considerably and, although I wouldn’t necessarily say I felt ready to present, as soon as I arrived at registration, which involved meeting all those attending, I was reassured. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, you instantly feel part of the MEMS community and all my initial worries vanished.

And I completely get it, for most of us talking about our own research in front of a room of people for 20 minutes isn’t easy. But I cannot stress enough that all the ears listening to you belong to eager faces of your fellow cohort. Everyone was on an equal platform and have a genuine interest in what your research can contribute to the field.

Obviously, those sweaty palms reappear just before you stand up to talk, but, yet again, once you’ve been introduced by the panel chair and you begin, those feelings disappear and you find yourself quickly running out of time to say everything you intended.

One unique aspect of this conference is that there is such a range. Not only does this allow you the freedom of topic for your paper, but it also offers something to suit all interests. Even further, the weekend provides you with the chance to attend short talks on brand new topics you may not have ever heard of before. Additionally, on the final day there is an opportunity to reminisce over a well-deserved glass (or two) outside in the summer sunshine with all those that attended.

Attending MEMS Fest is an experience in itself, yet getting involved by presenting a paper exceeded my expectations. It’s a fantastic chance for you to share your ideas with like-minded people.

The deadline for abstract submission at this year’s MEMS Festival is 23 March, however students affected by the recent UCU strike action are encouraged to contact the organizing committee regarding a short deadline extension. We hope to receive your abstract soon!

How to Write an Abstract

Writing an abstract is hard work — distilling your academic work and big ideas into 250 words doesn’t leave much space for nuance. It’s a skill that takes practice… but how do you even get started?

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Since our Call for Papers deadline is quickly approaching (more information here), we wanted to share our Top 5 Tips and Tricks for writing a successful abstract, that we hope you’ll be able to use whether you’re submitting to MEMS Fest for the first time or the fourth. 

  1. Topic and Purpose: while these are two separate things, they go hand in hand. What are you writing about and why? What makes it interesting or worth exploring?
  2. Problem and Argument: what question are you asking? What problem are you investigating? What is your main argument?
  3. Context: what else has been written about this topic or question? How does your research work alongside or within the existing critical field?
  4. Broad Conclusions: what does your research and the angle from which you’re exploring it begin to contribute? What conclusions are you drawing so far?
  5. Be Clear and Concise: remember, you only have 250 words to work with! Your abstract isn’t your paper, so don’t worry about covering every single detail at this stage.

Some conferences also ask for key words or a biography when you submit an abstract. At MEMS Fest, we don’t require them, but you’re welcome to include a few short sentences about you and your work if you like. Do make sure to include your name and the title of your paper, so that we know who you are.

We understand that everyone’s research can take different forms, so please don’t let these guidelines restrict you. We welcome your own personal style and encourage you to simply use these Top Tips as a platform for sparking your application structure.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t worry! We want to hear about your research and why it’s exciting. The MEMS Fest committee is made up of postgraduate students just like you. We’re all quite friendly and can’t wait to read what you submit. Happy writing!