Medieval Literature Class Visits Renaissance Festival
November 8, 2017
Category: Student Blogs
The following students from Catawba's Medieval Literature class share their experiences and photos from the Renaissance Festival:
The Carolina Renaissance Festival was a unique experience that will not be forgotten anytime soon. In our Medieval Literature class, we had the opportunity to travel through time and immerse ourselves in the world of chivalry, royalty, and magic. We observed all the elements of medieval society: knights, craftsmen, and bawdy humor. Needless to say, I was pretty entranced by the experience, despite the festival defying many of our expectations.
The festival was joyous and upbeat, providing for an exciting atmosphere, even for awkward kids like me. The entire staff got into character, making you feel like you belonged in the Middle Ages. Artisans opened their shops to us, allowing us to play with miniature trebuchets, sample one-of-a-kind fragrances, and even try on armor. There was never a dull moment; or a silent one, for that matter. Everywhere you looked there were talented entertainers such as jugglers, fortune tellers, acrobats, and musicians.
Luckily, the festival was lacking in traditional medieval religious undertones. The majority of medieval poems had strong Christian motives. Yet, to engross people in the fun of the Middle Ages rather than the preaching, the festival avoided talk of God (or gods). Instead, they put an emphasis on magic. Of course, magic isn’t absent from medieval literary works either. In fact, there are a great many pieces that involved fairies and spells.
The most interesting part of the entire festival was the jousting tournament. The whole event followed a storyline regarding knights competing for honor and glory. The fiasco, initially, near-perfectly captured the traditional ideas of a chivalric code. However, after a winner was announced, one knight was a sore loser. He decided to turn the whole tournament into a massacre. This most certainly does not align with a typical medieval knight’s values. That's probably why so many people booed him. The crowd’s excitement was among the most interesting things about the tournament. We were all completely aware of the fact that it was scripted, but it didn’t stop women from shouting insults to rival knights or children gasping when a shield broke. I couldn’t stop myself from getting invested either. The fact that jousting was used for entertainment back then makes perfect sense to me now.
As an odd kid who has always wanted adventure, the Renaissance Festival filled a void that I didn’t think could be filled. There’s truly nothing like wearing a knight’s gauntlet or watching a blacksmith work a forge. There has never been a time in my life that I didn’t want to be a knight, and that want is only intensified after this experience.
Medieval Literature Class Makes Trip to Renaissance Festival
By Charlie Hagood of Concord, N.C.
On November 4th, 2017, I went on a trip to a Renaissance Festival near Kannapolis, North Carolina, with my Medieval Literature class [taught by Dr Aaron Butler]. I didn't really know what to expect since I couldn't really remember the first time I went, but I definitely wasn't disappointed.
In class, we've been learning about different people and aspects of medieval life, and the trip was for the purpose of seeing what that was actually like in person. Admittedly, I tried to sneak to the advertisement booths in order to secure “some free money” in order to eat. There turned out to be no “free money,” but rather money I had to pay a small amount to receive. While the offer was still good, it wasn't free, and I didn't have any money so that was the first and only let down of the festival. Although it probably wasn't an intentional similarity, at least I knew the operators of that booth were just as interested in half-truths and scamming as some of the merchants and religious figures of the medieval era.
After sitting around for about 10 minutes, not knowing what to do with myself, I decided even if I didn't have money that there had to be something to see that would be worth it. Sure enough, after walking around I found a glass blower. I thought about why I saw glass everywhere in my life but never really thought about the people who work with it, but that's because consumerism kind of removes you from the creative aspect of products, unless you go on YouTube to look it up.
After watching his demonstration, which was really cool to me since the glass was over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and he was handling it like it was a candy apple, I looked in a bunch of different stores. From gorgeous jewelry to pillows with dogs on them to Poké Ball-shaped wax candles, there were all sorts of things that I expected and didn't expect to be there, like signs about selling children as slaves if they were left unattended. Not everyone in the medieval era was cool with slavery, but I guess it depends on the company you keep, or the shopkeep you visit.
The jousting was amazing too, though I personally didn't really get there in time to get a seat, so I watched behind a sea of people. Once I realized that there were several people who exceeded my 5 foot 7 inch reach, I sat by a tree and looked up into the sky and listened to the commentators and the roaring of fans who come to watch the jousts every year. It really was a gorgeous day and the leaves looked so good falling off the trees.
I saw several performances and heard songs played by the participants of the festival. All in all, it was a really great experience and I'm really glad I went with my class.