Undergraduate students from the University of Waterloo visited a variety of museums in England that allowed them to deepen their knowledge of medieval Europe through the lens of badges. They handled and analysed badges at the British Museum, the Museum of London, and the Lynn Museum, the Bristol Museum Shed and the Salisbury Museum and examined medieval manuscripts at the Parker Library. Students visited many historical holy sites: Westminster Abbey, King’s College Chapel, Ely Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral and Bristol Cathedral. The students were guided through a silent ‘pilgrim’ walk through Cambridge. They researched and wrote about the badges they studied; their work is hosted here. The badges provided students with a rich and nuanced gateway to reflect on medieval history and on the long history of the use of images as visual markers. The trip was indispensable for the students. Physical examination of the badges and medieval manuscripts was most important as not all details can be discerned from photographs due to deterioration. It was also so important to show and immerse students in the physical world of historical cathedrals and churches as it showed them the ubiquitous iconography that surrounded the medieval pilgrim.
This course was unique because it used experiential learning. The set experiences and curriculum were so engaging, immersive and fun that learning flowed easily. One of the most unique undergraduate courses I have been a part of.
The hands on experience was a great way to get students to understand the importance of these badges during the Middle Ages.
Daphne Van Delst