The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

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1. Research herbal medicines used in the Middle Ages and then write a study of which ones are still in use and for what purposes. Are some still used but for different illnesses? How accurate were medieval herbalists in the efficacy of their preparations?

2. Research animal husbandry in rural life. Pick several cultures in different time periods and compare their respective animal husbandry practices.

3. Rebecs, gitterns, and sackbuts are mentioned in the story. Research these and other medieval musical instruments. How were they built? Out of what materials? Which ones have modern descendants? Which ones have disappeared? Describe how a group of medieval instruments might have sounded and the effects this sound might have had on audiences.

4. Research medieval Saint's Days. Which ones were the most important and why? Which ones are still important?

5. Study the control seasons had over the lives of agricultural workers and city-dwellers as depicted in medieval art. Pick two or three examples of this genre of art and discuss the differences and similarities between the kinds and nature of the activities shown. Bring in pointed references to the culture of the time when discussing the reasons for the differences you have observed.

6. Study the conflicts between medieval England and the neighboring countries. How did the conflicts affect the common people? How were the conditions in Scotland and Wales during a comparable point in time similar or dissimilar? You can respond to these questions in the format of a paper or a short story.

7. Study the art of preserving food and preparing meals in the Middle Ages. What methods of food preservation were used? How did climate and geography affect the preservation and preparation of food? How did it affect what people eat? Which methods of medieval food preservation are still used and why?

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