Humanities Symposia: Medieval people didn’t really think the earth was flat

October 26, 2022

Eric GoddardTrine University’s Humanities Symposia continues Nov. 3 as Eric Goddard, Ph.D., lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Social Sciences, discusses “The Myth of the Medieval Flat Earth and Why It Matters.”

“Throughout much of the 20th century and even into the 21st, the myth that medieval Europeans believed in a flat earth – disproved by the voyages of Columbus – has persisted,” Goddard said.

Goddard’s presentation will begin by demonstrating that round earth belief began with the ancient Greeks and predominated in medieval Europe. He then will explore the beginnings of the medieval flat earth myth, and explain how the myth became established in the 19th and 20th centuries due to the desire of scholars to build the reputation of Columbus and to present a critical view of the medieval church.

“Ultimately, it is a story that reminds us of the need to double-check established theories, to maintain humility vis-à-vis the past, and to be critical of heroic historical narratives,” Goddard said.

Held in Wells Theater inside Taylor Hall, Trine’s Humanities Symposia is free and open to the public. Talks, beginning at 3 p.m., usually last about 30 minutes and are immediately followed by time for any questions, which usually leads to a total time of one hour.

Wells Theater seats 75 guests, so attendees are encouraged to arrive early if they have specific seating preferences.

The Symposia will continue with presentations on Nov. 10 by Melissa Mayus, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Humanities and Communication; and Nov. 18 by Patrick Ridout, assistant director of information services.

For more information about the Symposia, contact Melissa Mayus, Ph.D., associate professor in Trine’s Department of Humanities and Communication, at

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