Unstorytelling and the The Cloud of Unknowing: An Optional Assignment at Kalamazoo 48th Medieval Congress
Natalie Grinnell, Wofford College (SLAC in SC)
Challenges with school issues:
lack of familiarity with religious traditions
mysticism has to battle the local press (“dangerous proposal of introducing yoga to grade school children”)
students are openly disturbed by the works of Julian Norwich and Margery Kempe
Challenges with text itself:
difficult philosophical text which presents Christian meditation that is not typical of medievalism
no biographical text to hang it on
It appears that the author of the The Cloud would prefer I not do this. “Do not willingly copy it… except by or to a person… perfect follower of Christ…”
would of course provide background
wanted to engage their imagination
interact with the work emotionally or even spiritually
created an optional assignment- unstorytelling:
create a contemporary version of the ancient text
This assignment asked to replace their assumptions with the images (by the students themselves) which would overlay the reading of the text.
images for the video had to be done by the students themselves
none of the students protested this requirement
13 of 18 did video
3rd most popular choice for research papers (ahead of Beowulf and Malory)
Cloud mentioned as essential for 2/3s of the class
Not easy for the class.
Only 2 read fluently enough to use TEAMS edition.
Most used Penguin translation.
Cloud was topic for one week. Reading assignments were in small packets. Read every day. One guiding question per section.
Had 2 students taking course in Buddhism at same time.
Making of video required “making words into pictures and the pictures move back and tackle the words.”
“unknowing and reknowing”
Grinnell showed at least three examples. They were well done. I was amazed at how good they were, but I would assume that she chose the better ones to show.