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Going Medieval

10 Students. 10 Cities. 3 Countries. 4 Centuries. 3 Weeks. 


In the last three weeks, we have had the opportunity of a lifetime. Leaving our preconceptions behind, we all boarded planes in different cities and met together, here, in Freiburg am Breisgau. For these three weeks, this gracious city has been our home. Working together with students and professors from the University of Freiburg, we have traveled up and down the Rhein, from Strasbourg to Zurich and everywhere in between. 


For these three weeks, we have left our 21st century notions at home and opened our eyes to the Medieval culture of the upper Rhine. The upper Rhine region that borders on France, Germany, and Switzerland (the so-called Dreiländereck) is characterized today by its blended culture, multi-lingualism, and medieval heritage that form an important part of the region’s identity. In the Middle Ages, it was an economic and political center as well as a site of conflict, exchange and innovation. As part of Stanford University’s Bing Overseas Program (BOSP), the summer seminar “Going Medieval” lead by Prof. Kathryn Starkey aimed to provide opportunities to deepen our understanding of Medieval culture in this central part of Europe, as well as of life in the European Middle Ages more generally. Seminar topics included the roles of Christianity, Judaism, mysticism, and secularism in the rise of the city; the development of institutions such as universities and monasteries; the expansion of trade, including the various guilds represented in the medieval city and still characteristic of the region today (book-making, wine making, carpentry, stonemasonry, and so on.); literary culture; and artistic production.


This website presents an approach to this region based on our course work in the classroom and beyond, and personal exploration and observation of the medieval remains and the ways in which past and present intersect. We hope you, too, leave your 21st century ideas at home and can use this website to explore the not-so-foreign culture of the Middle Ages. Thank you for visiting our project, and we hope you enjoy!