Medieval Marketplace a ‘Love Letter for the Middle Ages’

Stage combat fighting with students

At right, Anthony Albaese of Swords and Stories stages a mock fight with a Stockton student during the Medieval Marketplace on April 19.

Galloway, N.J. — The last thing Michaela Macalalag expected on her way to class was to get in a sword fight.

But that’s what happened — sort of — on April 19 as the junior stumbled across the Medieval Marketplace held outside the Multicultural Center on campus.

“I’ve always wanted to try sword fighting and archery,” said the social work major from Somerset who just finished a mock sword battle with a member of the stage combat group Swords and Stories. “Not many classes have stuff like this.”

medieval marketplaceThe classes that Macalalag mentioned are “Game of Thrones” and “Middle Ages,” both taught by Geoffrey Gust, associate professor of Critical Thinking and First-Year Studies. Gust said the marketplace is a chance for his students to have fun.

“Sometimes our classes are so, so serious that we lose the fact that education and learning can be enjoyable,” he said. “I want my students to enjoy the experience.”

But more importantly Gust said the event allows his students to better connect with the past “in a way that’s more hands-on and visceral than just reading texts and having conversations in class.”

“The idea is to bring the past home to them in a more meaningful way,” he said.

Sometimes our classes are so, so serious that we lose the fact that education and learning can be enjoyable. I want my students to enjoy the experience. ... The idea is to bring the past home to them in a more meaningful way."
Geoffrey Gust
Associate Professor of Critical Thinking & First-Year Studies
This is the first time Gust had held the marketplace since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event not only allows students to get some lessons in sword fighting and archery, but also see replicas of medieval armor and weapons.

Some students presented class projects at the marketplace, including Lydia Pool, who focused on some of the games played during the Middle Ages.

“I like that they are painting medieval times and the Renaissance in a very positive light,” said the junior Hospitality major from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was dressed like a medieval peasant. “A lot of films paint the Middle Ages in a dark, dismal and negative light. I think it’s better to focus on what’s better than all the doom and gloom going around.”

medieval armorHaving fun and making people smile is a big reason why Anthony Albanese got involved with the stage combat group Swords and Stories. He has staged sword fights dressed as a knight for more than 25 years, and he loves coming to a university like Stockton to perform.

“I love being able to meet like-minded teachers and students who find these subjects fascinating,” said the 48-year-old from Audubon, who’s a personal trainer when he’s not swinging a sword. “It’s about making people laugh, having a good time and also educating people about the ideals of the medieval time period.”

Educating people about the Middle Ages is an important reason why Steven Bogart took Gust’s class. The Historical Studies major with a concentration in Education wants to be a history teacher, and he appreciated how the marketplace allowed him to be creative.

“It’s a love letter for the Middle Ages,” said the Little Egg Harbor Township native next to his display of medieval food. “It’s taking all the good, the bad, the ugly of the Middle Ages and combining it all in one big ball of fun.”

-- Story by Mark Melhorn; photos by Mark Melhorn and Susan Allen

Tagged: HistoryNews2023