Our own Five-Minute Medievalist and host of The Medieval Podcast, Danièle Cybulskie, has just started a new venture to help make it easier for people who are creating fiction to get the information they need. It’s called The Medieval Masterclass for Creators, and Danièle gave us the scoop on what it’s all about.
What is The Medieval Masterclass for Creators?
In a nutshell, it’s a six-week class that offers visual and video content in order to help creative people who are making fiction with their research into the medieval world.
Why did you create it?
I’ve been helping people with their creative projects for years now, and I’ve found that it’s always the small details that trip people up.
Imagine how hard it is to write or draw an eating scene when you don’t actually know what a medieval cup would look like, or what the texture of the food would have been like. Or to try to describe the movement of a dress. These are details which are absolutely essential to creative projects like novels, video games, or film, but it’s hard to find a reliable source for that information. I wanted to solve that problem for people.
How do you solve it?
Well, a few different ways. First, I’ve gathered together a bunch of experts who can not only explain the history behind what they’re showing, but who also can demonstrate it in action. So, medieval cooking, combat, blacksmithing, and textile work. Their videos allow you to see and hear people in motion, so that you can better describe motions, and colours, and textures in your own work. This type of research is so important and necessary, but it’s very hard to find good sources, so I’ve gathered really great experts together in one place.
I also do a couple of live lectures, myself, which show things like archaeological finds of objects in daily use (beds, dishes, boxes, etc.) and architecture. I do these live so that the people in the class can interact with each other and with me, and get to know each other a little bit. I really think when you’re working on a creative project, a village makes it better, so the class has a community board for people to chat and work through things together.
Eventually, the class will end, so each of my experts has put together a bibliography for their subject area (and I’ve put together a whole bunch of sources, too) so that there will be reliable, vetted sources for people to do further research. It’s a very long list, so I tailor it to your project for you. There are also a few other goodies, like downloadable content and writing/drawing prompts.
Finally, the people in the class have access to me for questions that aren’t easily answered. Normally, I charge people for consultations, but as part of the masterclass, people can access my brain for free!
Who are the experts?
They’re all really awesome people! And serious heavyweights when it comes to their expertise.
At the moment, we have Ken Mondschein, who does combat; Beth Rogers, who does food; Tom Timbrell, who demonstrates blacksmithing; and Katrin Kania, who demonstrates textiles. Medievalists.net’s Peter Konieczny (who is a trained librarian) has compiled and contributed to the bibliography. And then there’s me.
What do you hope people will get out of this?
Of course, I’m hoping that people will get amazing information that you really can’t get elsewhere, especially not all in one place, and I hope that will save them a lot of time and headaches as they work on their creative projects.
I also hope they’ll feel inspired, in part because of the information, but in part because of the community they’ll be part of. A huge part of keeping yourself going through creative work is being accountable to someone else, and I hope people will build friendships that will not only make their work better, but help them push through and finish their projects! Because we all need more great medieval fiction out there.
What else should people know?
If all goes well, I will be making more of these classes, with more experts and more tailored content. Some of the ideas I’m toying with are carpentry, warfare (as in, creating big battles in fiction), and relationships. So, this is just the start of what I hope will continue to be a source for great visual content.
Where can people find out more information?