Teaching Medieval Survey: French

Strength Through Diversity: Designing the Undergraduate Med French Survey (mid-9th to 15th Century, male and female authors, variety of genres) at Kalamazoo 48th Medieval Congress
Paul Creamer, East Stroudsburg U
pcreamer at esu.edu

While this was for a French survey, a lot of what he said also applies to any survey course.


Challenge:
meaningful for students, doable for students and teachers
advanced undergrad survey
make course more than just a list

Roadblocks:
lack of time
lack of familiarity with medieval world
ambivalence about reading
“can’t win” challenge of creating a smart and representative syllabus

Observations:
help them get started each time…
undergrad students ambivalent relationship with reading literature
Marie de France’s Lais
fascination with medieval “manipulables and Google Images-styled visuals
fascination with any aspect of medieval life that is radically different from our lives today
5 min PPT on food, jobs, clothing, etc (Maybe one of each?)

Critical decision:
discussion topics are the spine of the course, not the texts
best to anchor texts in political, social, and intellectual space
best to treat a few texts thoroughly than many texts hastily
leave Chanson de Roland and Roman de la Rose until the last week, where you present them in excerpted, Reader’s Digest form

Upside:
once designed and refigned, can be exciting, memorable tour, treat a variety, ground them in the cultural and creative reality in which they were “born.”

Downsides:
lots of time to prepare
need to teach 2-3 times before feels finished
undergrads know little, will be instructor-focused

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