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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Teaching Chaucer from the Perspective of a Troubadour and Using Music in the Classroom to Further Explain Literature


I am an English instructor, composer, and musical storyteller who uses bardic instruments to teach historical and contemporary texts. In this article, I discuss how teaching literature with music helps to bring that literature, whether ancient, medieval or otherwise, to life for students in both new and very old ways. I explain how I share both original and pre-recorded music, perform songs about the text, and assign creative projects associated with music, such as asking students to make or perform a generative piece along with an analytic defense of their interpretation or having them create a playlist that evokes the text, along with a paper or presentation justifying their choices. These activities help students engage with sources and their contexts.

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