At the end of August, Valkyrie coaches Kaja Sadowski, David R. Packer, Jordan Both, and Courtney Rice were invited to present a session at the 15th Biennial Romance in Medieval Britain Conference, hosted at the University of British Columbia. It's a small academic conference that brings together literary scholars from around the world to discuss a small body of popular chivalric texts mostly written in the 13th - 15th centuries. This year, the hosts had the bright idea of inviting us along to bring a bit of martial context to these works, many of which feature dramatic combat set pieces. We also brought a pile of swords.
Our presentation started with a quick-and-dirty overview of some of the primary sources we use in our own study of medieval European martial arts, our methodology of reconstruction and interpretation, and some of the key concepts that inform how we look at historical combat. Then, we turned around and applied that same methodology to a sample of literary texts (complete with demonstration sparring, of course!), and showed how literary analysis can be enriched by a more physical interpretive approach. The question period that followed gave us a chance to dig a bit deeper into a few examples and expand the conversation.
We managed to get the whole thing on video, and are sharing it here for everyone that missed our talk, or who wants a refresher of what exactly we covered. The sound is a bit on the quiet side, but you should be able to hear everything with a decent set of headphones. We've also provided the original slides, to make it a bit easier to follow along.
Thank you so much to Dr. Robert Rouse and the UBC Department of English for giving us the opportunity to bring our work into a new academic environment. We had a fantastic time, and look forward to doing more work in this area in the future. If you've got any follow-up questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!