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Nicole Petilli

Nicole Petilli


The aims of my three projects were to discover how medieval architecture is being conserved and to what extent, determine why Harry Potter is not generally considered to have literary merit and find how it could fit into education, and to study art in medieval swords. my previous humanities and arts experience includes a U.S. History course, a Great Problem Seminar on Atmosphere, Biosphere and Human Fears, and a basic art course. I learned that there are a lot of different factors that go into the preservation of castles and that what preservation means for each castle is different depending on what aspects are being preserved and for what purpose. I discovered that Harry Potter is not considered to have literary merit because of its instant popularity and the target audience, but it can gain merit as long as it's still being discussed. I learned that I should have looked at Renaissance sword art because medieval swords where mainly made for function only so the art is limited to religious invocations and other writings meant to give the blade magical power and are otherwise quite bland.

Milestone 1

Preservation of Medieval Art
Objective: How is medieval architecture conserved and to what extent?

How a medieval castle is preserved depends on what aspect of the castle is most important to keep. The amount of money an time entirely preserving a castle takes makes it impossible to preserve entirely. In some cases where the idea of a medieval castle is more important, one can change material and modify it as needed to make it easier to maintain. in other where historical accuracy is necessary, it might not be possible to restore the castle and more focus needs to be put on maintaining the existing structure. Handling tourism to the castles can be difficult. In many cases the preservation of a castle is funded by tourists, however large numbers of people can cause damage to the castle. I found that how well a castle is preserved depends on how popular it is and how much of a budget the castle has. a castle can still be well preserved on a low budget if it is not well known and has a low number of people visiting. Large crowds can be managed in there is enough of a budget to control he damage they can do. The worse case for castle preservation is if the castle is well known and has a low budget for crowd control and maintenance.
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Milestone 2

Literary Merit and Harry Potter
Objective: The aim of this project was to determine why Harry Potter is not generally considered to have literary merit and if it has a place being taught in schools.

I had previously viewed literary merit as something a book either has or doesn't have. Literary merit is more of a scale that depends on many factors and is subjected to a lot of bias. Some of those biases include the books popularity and target audience. One of the largest factors in determining literary merit is time since it will filter out works that got attention due to a certain time periods tastes. The literary merit of Harry Potter is held in question because of it's target audience and its immediate popularity. Looking at the Common Core standards for English I determined that Harry Potter would fit well into either a third or fourth grade curriculum.
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Milestone 3

Capstone: Art in Medieval Sword Forging
Objective: How Art was factored into the making of medieval swords

In this project I learned that most art in medieval swords consisted of different inscriptions. Most were religious invocations meant to give the barer divine favor. Other texts could have been names from swords being gifted or a form of magic meant to give the sword power. Smith's at the time were also trying to replicate Damascus Steel which had a distinctive wave pattern. This lead to swords being pattern welded to have different wave patterns.
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Activity Journal

Activity #1 Westminster Abbey

The relation had an indirect connection to my second milestone because part of Harry Potter was filmed in the halls. I thought a lot of the architecture was cool. since my other two milestones are based in the medieval time period it didn't relate too much but I found how the design was meant to make people look up for prayer was interesting. Overall it didn't relate to much to my milestones but I liked seeing all the historic graves. My favorite was either Newton's or Darwin's because they're both contributed a lot to science. I think it's kind of weird that there are churches not really controlled by the local bishop. The tour guide had mentioned that the royal family was very connected to the church but I do not think they should necessarily be running it. I like the system of separation between church and state in the U.S. much better. All the other churches I've been to have had a separate graveyard. It was interesting how they had people even burred in the church floor instead of in a separate location or in the catacombs. I liked how it kind of removed the separation between people and a typical graveyard. I had not previously realized why places have there different unknown solider monuments and graves Read More . I had a hard time understanding how having the one grave for everyone made sense. Having the prospective of one of the royal family member putting there bouquet on the grave because it could be their loved one really helped make those kind of monuments make sense for me. I also went to see the Evensong. It was interesting but hard to follow since all the songs were in Latin and had multiple parts being sung at once. Read More

Activity #2 Tower of London

The Tower of London Directly related to my first Milestone. They had a lot of Medieval architecture and had two separate restoration projects going on. One was on the White tower and the other was on Edward I's bedroom. They also had a couple of ornate medieval swords in the crowned jewels exhibit which relates to my third Milestone. I had mostly picked my third milestone because I need ed something that I could relate to the deliverable of forging a sword while being related to art. seeing some of the ceremonial and more decorative swords actually got me fairly excited for my third milestone beyond the sword making. I had't known they got so ornate or where really ever used for purposes other than fighting in that time period. The ravens and the Bloody tower we're also interesting because of the history and superstition around them. I'm glad the royal family doesn't seem to be as violent towards each other anymore. Read More

Activity #3 St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral was too modern for my first and third milestones. The architecture and design could have had an indirect impact on the setting of Harry Potter. The Great Hall in Hogwarts seemed to open up in a similar manner as the Nave in the Cathedral. I think it is going to be difficult to get anything that directly relates to my second milestone. The Whispering room was interesting. It's cool how those kinds of unintended effects can happen while designing different buildings. I thought it was kind of funny how they had a catacomb but where still burring people in the main floor. I did not recognize any of the names in the cathedral which I though twas weird because I had known a few from Westminster Abbey. I figure with the larger church there would also be some more recognizable people. I might have missed some important people because I read more about science and I am not to familiar with different writers. Read More

Activity #4 The British Museum

The Museum had a section on medieval art. It did not have any information on the the art was being preserved. There were sensors in the display cases that seemed to be measuring temperature and humidity in the case. They did have a sword with some decoration on it that would be relevant to my third milestone. There was another sword that was not on display because it was being researched. I tried to find some one to ask about the preservation of the art and what kind of research might be done on the swords but was unsuccessful. I did read a few of there LGBT through history signs. Most of my friends are in this group. I found it interesting how it seem to be tolerated and just not really talked about in past cultures leading up to Christianity and was discouraged after that. I found that to be kind of weird because the church I grew up in was always very tolerant. It was still against gay marriage but anyone was accepted. Read More

Activity #5 The Natural History Museum

None of my milestones are really directly related to nature. some of the older environments could have had an effect on how castles weathered and J.K. Roweling could have visited the museum at some point and had it influence her work. I spent a lot of time in the bird section. My favorite animals are owls so learning how their bones and feathers are put together was interesting. They also had some models of extinct birds and birds that actually don't exist which was kind of funny. I did learn a bit about my second milestone which was kind of surprising. I was talking to one of the employees who was letting people hole and compare a human skull and a gorilla skull and she was asking me about where I was from and why I was in London. I one point she ask how old I was and then mentioned that most 19 year-olds in London are seniors who are taking there exams to get into collage. I had always wondered why J.K. Roweling had choose to make Hogwarts go for seven years but it actually follows how school goes in London. Read More

Activity #6 The National Gallery

I did visit the section related to the Medieval Time period but I honestly do not find paintings that interesting. I was thinking about changing my first milestone to be more about the castles than the actual art. The gallery was different in terms of art preservation than the British Museum. They just had open rooms and ropes to keep people from getting close enough to touch the paintings instead of temperature and humidity control. I have never really been a fan of having to analysis different paintings but the way the gallery was set up I think I can at least understand why some people like to look at them. Some of the paintings were interesting scenes and where fun to look at without necessarily having to think about their meaning. Having to walk around the Gallery was not as boring as I thought it was going to be. I also went to see a piano performance at St. Martins in the field. I like piano so that was interesting. Read More

Activity #7 Tate Britain

Maybe the absurd number of paintings and portraits in London helped contribute to J.K. Rowling's decision to cover Hogwarts in them. Maybe the same boredom of having to stare at them for hours led her to make them move in a poor attempt to make them more interesting. Maybe if they did I would hate this activity just a little less. Read More

Activity #8 Victoria and Albert Museum

I enjoyed this museum a bit more than the previous two I went to. They had a huge medieval section. My milestone is kind of rearranging itself to focus more on the castles than the art but I still find it interesting. The section was set up a little weird though. It was a mix of renaissance and medieval art. There reasoning for this was that the transition was gradual so a lot of there collection could fit into either category. tracing the precise time the medieval period ends is a little important to my milestone because I need to be able to identify if it is a medieval castle or not. I have been defining it as anything pre-1500 AD but a lot of art was made over a span crossing that year. They had a lot of doorways and arches that made it a bit more interesting than just paintings like at the National Gallery. I also visited the Japanese section which was interesting because they had some really ornate samurai swords. Read More

Activity #9 Tate Modern

At least it wasn't just paintings. Some of the optical illusion stuff was cool and the How Not to be Seen exhibit was funny. Read More

Activity #10 Museum of London

They had a huge medieval section. It had a more defined dates as to the start and end of the period which were fairly close to the ones I have been using. They did not have anything on castles but they did have some information on swords. They have been banned so most people carried daggers instead. every forge had there own specific symbol they were required to put on their products so that people could tell who made the best blades. This was the first I had heard of decorations having a functional non ceremonial purpose. It got me more excited for my third milestone. There was also a lot of information on the black death and general living conditions of that time which I found interesting. Read More

Activity #11 Imperial War Museum

This Museum doesn't directly relate to any of my milestones. It is possible that J.K Rowling visited it at some point so it may have influenced her writing. I mainly looked through the sections for World War I and the Holocaust. It was interesting hearing about them from a non-American view. How British troops reacted to the war and what British home life was like during it was never covered back at school. The one thing that surprised me was that the gas wasn't considered to be that bad. I happened to overheat a tour and gas use was fairly limited because it proved to be ineffective once technology evolved to handle it. The gas masks worked well and even if a solider did end up breathing it, it often wasn't deadly and would only put them out of action for a couple months. gas only killed 3% of the people it effected. It was kind of weird how American involvement was not really discussed, even in the section dealing with after the US joined the war. Read More

Activity #12 Museum of London Docklands

Nothing here really pertained to my milestones. J.K Roweling may have visited at some point but I cant remember anything from the books that could have been influenced by the docklands. The museum was interesting and the guy at the desk was really nice. he offered to show us around because we were the first people to show up. I think he was kind of bored. The exhibits were interesting. I like the section where you could walk through the remodeled town. Read More

Activity #13 Horniman Museum

Again nothing really related to any of my milestones. I didn't like this one to much because the main exhibits where all taxidermy animals which I found mildly depressing. They had a few different kinds of owls. I've seen quite a few of the living owls and some of the other creatures like the platypus, ostrich and echidna and they're more impressive alive. the merman was kind of cool but also kind of creepy. Maybe J.K. Rowling did go and it served ad inspiration for Snape's office which is covered in things in preserving jars. I didn't like this museum that much but the gardens were cool and there were not any paintings. Read More

Activity #14 Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace was a little interesting because it is not a medieval palace but they same group takes care of it as the Tower of London. It was interesting to see how they control traffic differently and display things differently depending on when they're from and how sensitive they are. They also had a restoration going on which I thought was cool. It did not really relate to any of my milestones and it didn't look like it influenced Harry Potter that much it if did at all. We did see part of a show which was very cool. It was hard to make sense of though because we came in halfway through but it looked like it was about King Henry VIII and Queen Anne before Queen Elizabeth was born. Read More

Activity #15 The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection contained 3 European armories which relates to my third milestone. Most of their swords were from the Renaissance time period but they did have a few medieval ones as well. The medieval swords where a lot planer an simpler than the ones I've seen at some of the other museums and didn't look to be as well preserved. I did enjoy looking at the rest of the armories as well. they did have a lot of really ornate swords and daggers as well as a few full suits of armor. They even had sets for horses. Since the main reason I chose my first two milestone was that I like knights and castles it was all still really cool to see. Apart form the armories they had a lot of paintings which I did not find to interesting. They did have a section where you could try on some armor which was fun. I already knew that chain mail is heavy but wearing a 30 lb vest helps to give a better idea on how heavy. Read More

Activity #16 London Science Museum

I didn't find anything directly relating to any of my milestones. It is possible J.K. Rowling visited and maybe either the medicine section or the section on steam power help inspire the how the wizards are a little behind on technology. I spent most of my time in the space exploration exhibit. I found it extremely interesting because I want to work in that field when I graduate. I already knew most of the stuff because the exhibit focused on US and Russian space travel since the rockets and landers were mainly created as part of the space race. I did learn that the pod they astronauts com back in has two pains of glass and the outer one is screwed on with explosive blots so they can blow the exterior window off after entering the atmosphere and have a clean window not covered in soot. I had already known that astronauts are required to learn Russian and I found out that is because the manuals for operating the space craft as while as he controls are in Russian. I also like seeing all the different rocket models and the section on traveling at light speed and Einsteins theory of relativity. Read More

Activity #17 Romeo and Juliet at the Globe

I really enjoyed seeing the play. It would have been much better if it wasn't raining for the first half hour but I still found it to be very interesting. I remember studying Romeo and Juliet in mt sophomore year of high school and at the time the teacher kept pointing out a bunch of jokes that we all understood the concept of but no one could really figure out how they where supposed to be funny. They make a lot more sense when you can see them happening instead of reading it. I didn't like most of the changes they made to make it more modern. The guns didn't make as much sense with the script and it was harder to understand when people were getting hurt and by whom. The makeup they wore looked ridiculous. I noticed that only the higher class people wore the clown makeup and the lower classes looked a little more normal but I think there would be better ways of making them look different. Read More

Activity #18 Stonehenge and Bath

I really liked Stonehenge. I've never really liked studying history because I'm not good at remembering dates or geography but I have always found it to be interesting and I like hearing about it and being able to experience it. Our tour guide Andrew was trying to help us get our heads around how old it is and I do in the sense that I know how old it is but I still can't believe people were able to build something like that 2000 years before King David. I sort of felt a connection to my first Milestone because I really wanted to be able to get a closer look but I understand how hard it is to balance conservation and tourism in those kinds of places. I would have likes a lot more time there because I felt really rushed trying to do the audio tour and still have enough time to really experience Stonehenge. It also would have been nice to have better weather but at least I can understand why the people who built it would be so focused on time and when it would be safe to be in that more exposed area. Read More I was only vaguely aware of Bath's existence before going there. If someone had asked me what Bath was I would have been able to tell them that it was a place with a natural hot spring that is supposed to be good for you and that I have no idea where it is (see bad at geography). I found the history interesting. The part about making fake Roman buildings also fits into my first milestone. One of the topics was on how in some cases its better to conserve the idea of the building instead of the building itself. In context of my milestone that would be putting the artistic value of it over its historic value. Now if someone asks me what Bath is I can tell them it's a town in England with a somewhat fake roman bath on a hot spring that is supposed to be good for you but is actually full of bacteria and lead. It's also where the first King of England was crowned. Read More

Activity #19 Windsor Castle

I liked what I was able to see of Windsor. I had to leave after an hour and a half to make the train to Glastonbury for my sword forging class. I did get to see Queen Mary's doll house and the State Apartments. Windsor Castle directly relates to my first milestone since it's one of the castles I looked at in terms of preservation. It was definitely one of the better maintained castles. However, there really was not any medieval architecture left. St George’s Hall did have a medieval timber ceiling but it was a replica ceiling that replaced a plaster ceiling after the fire. I found Windsor Castle to be the hardest to analyse in terms of preservation because they decided to preserve the artistic value and the impression of a medieval castle over the historical value of the castle itself. In my research I did say that was a valid method of preservation as long as it was decided at the start of the preservation so it could be accurately maintained. They did have a restoration in progress and the castle looked very well maintained. Read More

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