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.

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

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

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

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.”

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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