In the medieval world, schools and those engaged in learning and teaching played a role in the socities around them. Schools attracted the literate and the educated into communities. They also allowed for members of communities to acquire literacy and education, thus enhancing the economic and intellectual life of the community. Beyond these obvious benefits, the presence of schools interacted, changed and occasionally caused havoc in the villages, towns, and cities where they were situated. Some teachers engaged in municipal governments and became local leaders. Others were considered parasites who could not be trusted around wives and daughters. Pupils held their own festivals, putting on cockfights and games for everyone to enjoy and welcoming dignitaries. Sometimes they rioted and vandalized the very communities of which they were members. Teachers paid taxes and urban governments battled with ecclesiastical authorities over the right to name schoolmasters and fund schools.
While much has been written on the riotous behavior of university students in the Middle Ages and on the influence of university professors on their cities, relatively little scholarship has been devoted to the influence of elementary and grammar schools on their communities. This session will allow presenters to discuss the ways in which less exalted teachers of reading and grammar interacted with society in general, as scribes, witnesses, advisors, taxpayers, and criminals. It will also offer an opportunity for scholars to explore how the children who attended these schools were changed by their experiences, made into a special sub-section of their community, and who were expected to engage in activities that benefited society at large. It will also allow for a discussion of how elementary and grammar education was viewed in the Middle Ages by community leaders, how these leaders sought to encourage the presence of teachers and schools, and how they sought to control them. Ultimately, this session would underline the important role that schools played in medieval communities and how, even when the opportunity to learn was not open to all, teachers and pupils still formed a distinct and essential role in medieval society.
The geographic and chronological focus will be entirely open. However, it is likely that most of the papers will focus on urban areas in the later Middle Ages (12th-15th centuries).
Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a completed Participant Information Form (available here: http://www.wmich.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/u434/2016/medieval-pif-2017.pdf) to Sarah B. Lynch (email@example.com) by September 15th, 2016. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts not accepted for the session will be forwarded to Congress administrators for consideration in general sessions, as per Congress regulations.