A&M-Texarkana history professor organizes conference on chivalry

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Dr. Craig Nakashian, associate professor of history at Texas A&M University-Texarkana, recently organized and chaired a conference on “Chivalry and Its Anxieties: 1000-1600” in conjunction with the Fifth Annual Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies hosted by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at St. Louis University in Missouri.

“The conference was designed to bring together scholars from across disciplines to consider questions of chivalric culture and warfare,” said Dr. Nakashian. “Conceptions of chivalry tend to lean toward one of two extremes: valorizing and romanticizing knighthood, as chivalric fiction and knights themselves so often did, or the opposite, condemning knights as murderous thugs and dismissing chivalry as a self-deceiving sham.

“The knightly vocation was in many ways a difficult one – considering not only the physical hardships of war, but also the moral ambiguities and pragmatic hazards of wielding power, dispensing justice and violence, and winning and preserving status and reputation. What was the relationship of chivalry, theoretically the guiding ethos of the professional warrior class, to the actual challenges faced by knights? If it was applicable to knights’ ordinary activities, what kind of guidance did it offer? This conference considered how chivalric precepts and attitudes intersected with the realities of knightly life.”

During the conference, Dr. Richard W. Kaeuper of the University of Rochester was presented with a festschrift – a celebratory publication honoring his achievements. The book, Prowess, Piety and Public Order in Medieval Society, was co-edited by Dr. Nakashian and Dr. Daniel P. Franke, assistant professor of history at Richard Bland College of William and Mary. It features the academic writing of 19 scholars of medieval history, many of whom were former students of Dr. Kaeuper.

Dr. Nakashian also presented a paper on the chivalric context of Archbishop Turpin and moderated two roundtable sessions at the conference, which drew an international delegation from throughout the United States and Europe.

A member of the A&M-Texarkana faculty since fall 2010, Dr. Nakashian teaches courses including Medieval Civilization, Sex, Swords and Sorcery: The Medieval World in Anglo-American Film, Augustus Caesar to Charlemagne, Crusades, Councils and King Arthur: Europe in 1215, and World Civilization I and II.

His research interests include medieval England and France, religious and military culture, and chivalry and the church. He also serves as president of the Faculty Senate, director of the University Honors program and coordinates the freshman convocation each fall.

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