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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee will celebrate the Medieval and Renaissance Semester across campus this fall with events and study of the era’s art, music, drama and achievements.

The emphasis was created as part of Ready for the World, a long-term initiative at UT to better prepare students to compete in a global economy by exposure to more international and intercultural experiences.

Spearheaded by UT’s Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, the Medieval and Renaissance Semester will feature musical and dramatic performances, an art exhibit, medieval fair and scholarly workshops.

“Marco’s stature as a research institute has been growing nationally and internationally, and the university is pleased to highlight its success with a semester devoted to the Medieval and Renaissance era. We hope the campus and community will take advantage of the many events to learn more about this time in history and UT’s efforts to study it,” UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree said.

The Marco Institute involves 30 faculty members from eight departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and began as a Center of Excellence in 2001. It became a university institute in 2003 when it won a $3 million challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Robert J. Bast, associate professor of history and Riggsby director of the Marco Institute, said learning about the Middle Ages and Renaissance will help equip students for today’s world and the effects of globalization.

“Those centuries were the crucible in which our own cultures were formed, and the study of that era sheds light on problems and possibilities that concern us immediately, such as the intermingling of religion and politics, struggles for human rights, interactions between different faiths and the formation of a global economy,” Bast said.

“Public education can do no greater service than to prepare our own young women and men, whatever their vocational path, to become active and informed citizens who are ready for such a world,” he said.

Numerous events will highlight the semester.

• “Sacred Beauty: A Millennium of Religious Art, 600-1600,” an exhibit of religious art and artifacts, will open Sept. 8 at the Frank H. McClung Museum and remain on display until Jan. 6, 2008. The exhibit will include art and artifacts from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. Faculty members in art, history and religious studies will discuss selected objects at 2 p.m. on Oct. 7. A program about Mary Magdalen, a first witness to Jesus’ resurrection, will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 16. Both events will be in the museum auditorium.

• The Medieval Faire will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 14 at Circle Park, featuring entertainment, music, costumes and crafts.

• The Boston Camerata, a world-renowned group that performs music from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods will be Distinguished Artists in Residence. Boston Camerata director Joel Cohen and mezzo-soprano Anne Azéma arrive on campus Sept. 15 to teach special courses in musicology, language and literature and medieval studies. The Boston Camerata will perform three concerts: 8 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building, “Cantigas: Christians, Jews and Muslims at the Court of King Alfonso the Wise”; 8 p.m. Oct. 9 in the UT Music Hall, “Nueva España: Close Encounters in the New World”; and 8 p.m. Nov. 16 in the UT Music Hall, “Abbey of Love.” The concerts are free and open to the public. The Boston Camerata also will participate in “Singing School: A Celebration of American Folk Hymnody,” a program with local traditional Appalachian singing groups from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 13. The location has not yet been announced.

• Shakespeare Week, featuring the professional repertory group Actors from the London Stage, will be held Oct. 15-21. The British actors will stage three minimalist performances of “Macbeth” at 10 a.m. Oct. 17 for Knox County Schools, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 for Clarence Brown Theater patrons, campus and community and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 for campus and community. All performances will be at the Clarence Brown Theater on campus. Call (865) 974-5161 to reserve tickets in advance. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

• The Marco Institute will present its sixth annual symposium Nov. 15-16. Scholars from UT and around the world will discuss “Saints and Citizens: Religion and Politics in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance” from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. both days in the Hodges Library auditorium.

• Seven seminars on the semester’s theme will be available to students in the Chancellor’s Honors Program.

All events are free and are open to the public except where noted.

Previous Ready for the World semesters at UT have focused on the environment, Africa and Appalachia. As the initiative’s goals are put into practice, Ready for the World is becoming more visible to students and a part of campus life.

The Ready for the World Web site is continuously updated to share students’ stories, blogs, photos and videos illustrating their international and intercultural experiences. For more information go to

This year’s “Life of the Mind” book is Norman Cantor’s “In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death & the World It Made.” All first-year students and many others will read the book and discuss it as part of Welcome Week. For more information go to

More information about the Medieval and Renaissance Semester can be found at


Elizabeth Davis, (865) 974-5179,

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,