students visit sites in Paris and Troyes to create digital humanities project
CONWAY, Ark. (September 18, 2023) — Twelve Hendrix College
students representing a wide variety of majors spent two weeks in France this
summer studying medieval material culture.
The student group included artists, computer scientists, and historical
researchers, and was led by Professor of History Dr. Sasha Pfau. The experience
was supported by the James and Emily Bost Odyssey Professorship, which Pfau
The student cohort included:
- Grant Reilmann
While there was no prerequisite course, students read and
discussed a book about medieval pardon letters. They selected seven crime narratives
from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century France and conducted independent research to prepare contextual
essays about the narratives they selected.
The two-week travel experience helped students place their
research in context.
“Students often see medieval history as dark, dry, and
distant from their own experiences,” said Pfau. “This project made the past
come alive for students, as they read narratives about medieval crime, then
walked through medieval streets, saw tools and building techniques, and
immersed themselves in religious and secular spaces.”
Corissa Ross, a senior history and politics double major from
Little Rock, Arkansas, agreed.
“I think the trip to France was especially valuable because
it is hard to imagine what life was like in the Middle Ages,” said Ross. “It
was helpful to contextualize the things I have been reading about in my letter
with actual objects and spaces.”
The group toured medieval churches in Paris and visited the
Musée de Cluny, Château de Vincennes, Musée Carnavalet, Sainte Chapelle, Tour
Jean Sans Peur, and Medieval Louvre, and had dinner with Al Haidar ’12, a
Hendrix graduate currently living in Paris. Students also visited Guédelon
Castle and explored churches and other sites in Troyes, including a
stained-glass museum and a tool museum.
“The students pretty uniformly agreed that our visit to
Guédelon, where they are building a castle using medieval methods through
experiential archeology, the Château de Vincennes, where they were able to see
the room where the royal notaries worked to compose these letters, and the
Sainte Chapelle in Paris and the Cité of Stained Glass in Troyes, where they
saw examples of medieval stained glass that the artists are using as
inspiration for their work, were the highlights,” said Pfau.
The research and travel experience are part of a digital
humanities project. The students are now developing a website to
original manuscripts, transcripts, translations, contextual essays, and visuals
from material culture, resulting in an interactive online experience where the
audience can see a more complex and complete vision of the medieval past.
This summer’s group is the first of two student cohorts
funded by the Odyssey Professorship. Pfau is currently recruiting a second set
of students to join her in June 2024.
About Hendrix College
Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is featured in Colleges That
Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges and
celebrated among the country’s leading liberal arts colleges for academic
quality, engaged learning opportunities and career preparation, vibrant campus
life, and value. The Hendrix College Warriors compete in 21 NCAA Division III
sports. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since
1884. Learn more at www.hendrix.edu.
“… Through engagement that links the classroom
with the world, and a commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and
sustainable living, the Hendrix community inspires students to lead lives of
accomplishment, integrity, service, and joy.” —Hendrix College
Statement of Purpose