UNCG Campus Weekly

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Feasts, catastrophe and the Folger Seminar

Photo of Melissa ElmesUNCG’s Melissa Elmes, a doctoral student in medieval literature, was accepted into the Folger Institute’s spring 2015 seminar. Elmes joins a growing list of UNCG doctoral students and faculty accepted into these highly selective and prestigious Folger programs. The Scale of Catastrophe: Ecology and Transition, Medieval to Early Modern seminar brought Elmes to the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, nearly every Thursday through April 23.

Every year, the Folger Institute attracts hundreds of applications from the top minds around the world to participate in its seminars. The seminars work much like a graduate level course – participants have weekly assigned readings, discussion prompts, and presentations. There is one important difference, though: instead of reviewing existing knowledge, participants create and disseminate new knowledge by discussing it with each other and bringing it back to their respective institutions. In the case of The Scale of Catastrophe seminar, the scholars considered the effects of natural and man-made disasters on individual and community identity.

The experience has been both humbling and inspiring for Elmes. “You’re actually in a room with all of these brains from literally across the world, and you’re producing knowledge,” she says. “Until I took this seminar, I didn’t realize the scale and deep responsibility that is involved with the kind of work that we do.”

Elmes’ doctoral dissertation focuses on feasts and feasting in medieval literature and their role in changing and recreating human and community identity.

By Emma Troxler
Full story at UNCG Research site.