Sponsored by the New Chaucer Society, New Chaucer Studies: Pedagogy and Profession offers essays, news, and resources for teachers and scholars of Geoffrey Chaucer and his age. Published twice per year, this peer-reviewed, open-access journal is dedicated to our work inside both the classroom and the institution, as well as to our outward-facing work contributing to the public discourse. In these ways, the journal seeks to advance a broad and embracing conception of medieval literary studies.
Volume 3, Issue 2, 2022
This issue includes a cluster on medieval studies and secondary education, contributions on pedagogy and teaching and learning centers, as well as contributions to two regular features: “How I Teach” and “Conversations.”
This essay examines the appropriation of medieval history by far-right British publications in the 1960s and 1970s, in the context of teaching medievalism to undergraduate students. It is informed by the author’s experience of designing and delivering an undergraduate course on chivalry in medieval and postmedieval context that utilises the resources of the Searchlight Archive, a significant repository for fascist and anti-fascist materials from British and international groups from 1965 to the near-present day.
Conversation with Kirk Ambrose, Founding Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Colorado, Boulder
An interview by Lisa Lampert-Weissig of Kirk Ambrose, a scholar of medieval art history. Ambrose has authored many articles and four books, The Nave Sculpture of Vézelay: The Art of Monastic Contemplation; Current Directions in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Sculpture Studies (co-edited with Robert Maxwell); The Marvelous and the Monstrous in the Sculpture of Twelfth- Century Europe; and Urnes Stave Church and its Global Romanesque Connections (co-edited with Margrete Systad Andås and Griffin Murray).
This piece considers the hasty endings of medieval romance alongside the response to the chronic COVID-19 crisis, exploring the contours of the all-too-human desire for closure. During the pandemic, new communities of practice around teaching arose. These fresh collaborations appeared as we all needed to reimagine online classroom community for our students. I suggest that instructors deserve the same kind of support they offer students – and yet, their needs are too often relegated to the background of our conversations about pedagogy. By valuing and supporting instructors, we can help them reimagine the academy more broadly. The pandemic forced us to evaluate what we value in our academic communities. As we move forward, I propose that we take those lessons with us.
Cluster: Medieval Studies and Secondary Education
Introduction to the special cluster on incorporating medieval studies into secondary education curricula, including a discussion of partnership between secondary, post-secondary and community institutions, and their importance.
In this article I argue for the importance of centering medieval African in both secondary and post- secondary settings and offer some concrete resources and guidelines for doing so, especially for non- specialists. In my teaching context––high school students in the United States between ages 15 and 17––many state standards emphasize African history during and after European colonialism. Overlooking Africa’s medieval past maintains colonial historical narratives that depict Africa as a region without history. Instead, by choosing discrete sources and cultures to teach, maximizing the global aspect of medieval African trade and cultural networks, and adapting these approaches for their specific classroom needs, educators can emphasize a story of African history that appropriately situates African societies as part of the medieval world’s constellation of cultural and power centers.
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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‘Chaucer’s World’ Study Days in Oxford for Post-16 Students: Enhancing Learning and Encouraging Wonder
This collaborative essay, structured as a collection of tales akin to Chaucer’s, provides a multiperspectival reflection on enhancement study days, entitled ‘Chaucer’s World’, co-organised by the University of Oxford, the Ashmolean Museum, the Bodleian Library, and secondary schools from the area. The event is aimed at UK secondary school students in their final two years of study, and is intended not only to help students with their preparation for the A-Level English Literature exam but also to instil in them appreciation for Chaucer’s works, as well as for medieval literature and culture in general.
The website Middle Ages for Educators was created in the spring of 2020. It was designed for teachers, students, and any members of the broader public who want to learn about Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (c. 300-1500 C.E.). It provides resources for both teaching and research, including short videos by world-renowned experts accompanied by discussion questions and primary source materials, introductions to medieval digital projects, workshops on how to use digital tools to study the medieval past, and curated links to associated websites with medieval content, images, digitized manuscripts, or other medieval materials. This article discusses the history, present use, and future goals of the website. It explains how it was founded, its evolution, and how and why it arrived at its current home at Princeton University. It offers examples and links of the various resources found on the site, and finally reflects on the place of the website in the current and future teaching of medieval studies, in and beyond the universities.
This essay reflects on our experiences in directing four National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminars for K–12 teachers on The Canterbury Tales, and on the value of basing these Seminars in London. In light of the political pressures that led the NEH to require that Seminars now be conducted in the United States, we encourage our American colleagues to propose Chaucer Seminars at U.S. locations.
How I Teach ....
This essay describes the author’s work as a translator of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and how she uses this translation in the classroom.
Ruth Evans, Executive Director of the New Chaucer Society from 2012 to 2018, describes the challenges and successes during the long process of digitizing Studies in the Age of Chaucer. Using Studies in the Age of Chaucer as a case study, this article considers more widely the future of print publications of journals and analyzes the overall impact of digitization on scholarly societies.
As part of a continued conversation about academic publishing, the editors of Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures reflect on the founding and early years of this open access publication.