Podcast 42: Summer Of Chivalry

Students at the 2009 Medieval Minnesota Summer Camp program take a well-earned bow after performing a scene from a medieval play as part of their week-long study program.

Prof. Phillip Adamo, director of the Medieval Minnesota summer camp program sponsored by Augsburg College, talks about discoveries in chivalry and medieval history as he guides students on a week-long journey into the Middle Ages.

Plus: William Gurstelle, author of The Art of the Catapult and Absinthe & Flamethrowers, talks about trebuchets, chivalry and the art of living dangerously; and we wrap up our listener challenge with final thoughts on the Nine Worthies of Chivalry Today.

Correction: In the introduction, Scott incorrectly cites the title of William Gurstelle’s latest book. The book is Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. Whoosh, Boom, Splat is one of William’s earlier books. We apologize for the mistake.

Quicklinks – Learn more about the books and programs featured in this podcast episode by using the following links:
• Medieval Minnesota Summer Camp;
• Absinthe & Flamethrowers and The Art of the Catapult by William Gurstelle

Segment 1: Chivalry In A Worthy Cause – Final Entries And Thoughts On Our Listener Challenge

We take one last look at our listeners’ nominations of the Nine Worthies of Chivalry Today, and reflect on what we’ve learned about chivalry in today’s world as a result of the many suggestions we’ve received this season as to who embodies the code of chivalry in the 21st century.

Segment 2: Interview: Prof. Phillip Adamo, Director of Medieval Minnesota Summer Camp

Augsburg College sponsors Medieval Minnesota, a college preparatory program that gives a group of high school students the opportunity to spend a whole week studying and living in the Age of Chivalry. Program director Phillip Adamo (pictured, right) joins us to talk about the program, and to discuss the important lessons in chivalry that students (and instructors too) have learned by surrounding themselves with medieval culture.

• Learn more at the Medieval Minnesota Summer Camp website.
• Below, watch a short movie about the Battle Of Hastings created by one of the students at Medieval Minnesota.

Segment 3: Catapults, Chivalry and the Art of Living Dangerously

Author William Gurstelle (pictured, right) is famous for his books full of exciting backyard projects and activities, from potato guns to knife throwing, including all manner of improvised munitions. He is the science teacher most of us wish we’d had in middle school, and his books and videos encourage his fans to release their “inner MacGyver.” But his most recent book, Absinthe & Flamethrowers, looks at this penchant for (slightly) hair-raising projects not just as an instruction manual, but also as a philosophical treatise. (It is subtitled, “Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously.”) In this interview, William talks with Scott about the “artful” approach to risky living and the surprising connections to the ideals of chivalry. And, as a special medieval bonus, he gives some tips on how to make your own backyard catapult – a great summer project!

• Buy William Gurstelle’s books Absinthe & Flamethrowers and The Art of the Catapult;
• Visit William Gurstelle’s catapult website, where you can see pictures of his enormous model trebuchet Ludgar (the war wolf), including a nightime image of a crew launching a flaming softball across a lake.
• Read an article in Popular Mechanics about William Gurstelle and Teaching Science With Trebuchets;
• Gurstelle was profiled in the New York Times in 2009 as the author of Books Of Things Not To Try At Home;
• Below, watch video of William Gurstelle talking about “the art of living dangerously” at a live presentation exploring the history and benefits of risk-taking.

Next season: Join us for another year of exploring the history, literature and philosophy of the code of chivalry, including a new translation of Malory’s Morte Darthur, a look at the life of Tecumseh (the “Native American King Arthur”), cotillion schools, femininity, the official School of Life, and a medieval castle being built in the Ozarks.