Statement Concerning Civility, Scholarship, and Pedagogy

As a leading organization advocating for teaching the Middle Ages, it is important for TEAMS: Teaching Association for Medieval Studies to engage the complex and difficult histories of the medieval era, and their equally complex and difficult exploration and invocation in the post-medieval era. Such engagement cannot condone personal attacks on those who raise compelling questions of who we are as a community of scholar teachers.

As scholar teachers, we must constantly closely examine how we conduct our work–and ourselves. There is no place for racism, sexism or other forms of bigotry in higher education, medieval studies or otherwise.

Please read and consider adding your signature to each of the following:
An Open Letter to the Department of History, University of Chicago & Signature Page
IPPS statement in support of Dorothy Kim (Piers Plowman Society)

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New Issue: The Once and Future Classroom

ESSAYS

  1. “Study Outside the Box – The ‘Modern’ Staging of the Middle English Everyman,” IRENA BEROVIC
  2. “The ‘Dante vivo’ Project, Florence, Italy,” JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY
  3. “Student Scholarly Identity and Multimodal Making with a Digital Anthology Project,” COREY SPARKS AND MIRANDA YAGGI
  4. “Gui de Cambrai’s Barlaam and Josaphat: A Primer of Medieval Christian Concepts for Undergraduates,” MARISA SIKES
  5. “Canterbury Trails: Walking with Immigrants, Refugees, and the Man of Law,” PAMELA TROYER
  6. “Race and Ethnicity: Saracens and Jews in Middle English Literature,” Annotated Bibliography for Teachers, ASHLEY R. CONKLIN

REPRINTED FROM THE ISSUE:

Editor’s Introduction (Spring 2017)

What the essays in this spring 2017 issue of the Once and Future Classroom have in common are the innovative ways in which each professor successfully creates active student learning communities. Our contributors offer a variety of methods to engage students with subject material that is often deemed too difficult or too remote for the typical medieval literature classroom. At other times, the works are taught regularly, but in ways that could be much more creative. By creating web materials for the study of Dante, Julia Bolton Holloway’s marvelous Dante vivo project responds to the call for a livelier pedagogy of Dante’s writings. Found at http://www.florin.ms/Dantevivo.html, Dante vivo aims to make Dante available “for everyone – as he intended” (Holloway). The entire text of the Commedia can be read while listening to each canto in one of two recorded versions and users can see stunning miniatures adapted from medieval manuscripts, relevant Botticelli drawings, and William Blake’s sketches. It is fascinating to read about this multi-layered hypertextual project, which not only includes musical and theatrical settings but lessons for elementary and university students on how to hypertext so that they can create their own personal Dante site.

Irena Berovic’s “Study Outside the Box – The ‘Modern’ Staging of the Middle English Everyman” leads us through her successful effort to encourage her German students studying in an English Literature program by teaching Everyman through group-based classroom work aimed at performance. Using a carefully outlined methodological process, Professor Berovic demonstrates how the steps she took impelled the class to take ownership of Everyman, discovering central issues for themselves, working through the problems of reading in Middle English, translating the text into Modern English; developing ideas for staging, script-writing and costuming so that their version of the play could be – and was – successfully performed.

Corey Sparks and Miranda Yaggi created a “Digital Anthology Project,” a student-oriented web-based project involving literary research, writing, and publication. In their essay, “Student Scholarly Identity and Multimodal Making with a Digital Anthology Project,” Sparks and Yaggi explain how they immersed their upper-level survey students in “a process of research, production, and mediation” that would be relevant to them while also providing the steps for creating their own anthology, complete with framing narratives. The authors make clear how this project demonstrated the students’ developing grasp of the included literary works, the contexts of the works, and a defense of why their anthology creates a “canon.” The digital anthology process is a robust way to employ the skills and learning involved in interpretive research papers but with the added advantage of engaging students in “an ongoing, semester-long process of rigorous research, analysis, argumentation, drafting, and revision that fosters intellectual community” (Sparks and Yaggi).

In “Gui de Cambrai’s Barlaam and Josaphat: A Primer of Medieval Christian Concepts for Undergraduates,” Marisa Sikes contends that comparative readings between a well-known, complex work, such as Dante’s Inferno and a lesser-known but more accessible work, such as Gui de Cambrai’s Barlaam and Josaphat, enhances her students’ understanding of the socio-cultural contexts of medieval literature. In her essay, Sikes offers an account of how excerpts from Barlaam and Josaphat can be effectively paired with the Inferno or other well-known medieval texts to offer an additional perspective on medieval religious practice. Barlaam and Josaphat assigned in Peggy McCracken’s “easily readable prose translation” provides a fitting counterpart to more challenging works, such as Dante’s Inferno or the Song of Roland by delineating major concepts and practices of medieval Christianity and by presenting numerous medieval genres, literary devices and styles. Explaining that the text, a westernized and Christianized retelling of the life of Buddha, showcases the intersection of East and West in the Middle Ages, this essay will surely inspire medievalists to include Barlaam and Josephat the next time they teach a medieval literature survey course.

Pamela Troyer’s “Canterbury Trails: Walking with Immigrants, Refugees, and the Man of Law” offers a fascinating look at how the undergraduates in a multicultural classroom related to Chaucer’s “Man of Law’s Tale” in surprising and unexpected ways. One of Troyer’s classes is a required literature survey in which students of various races, ethnicities and age, and with a variety of educational backgrounds are enrolled. She has found great success by opening up her students to the relevance and importance of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales through the Man of Law’s tale, or put another way, Troyer’s essay shows how her students impressed her with the unpredicted ways in which they understood this often-challenging tale. In her multicultural class, students were emotionally affected by the portrayal of the abandoned heroine, drifting from one unwelcoming location to the next. The “impersonal waves of exile and rejection” that Custance experiences struck students as a metaphor of social and geographic isolation, and to some, hit home more personally. The immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Troyer’s class understood and identified with Custance’s predicament, and they found this character from another age and unfamiliar culture to validate and mitigate the loneliness, disassociation, fear, and shame of migration that some of them had themselves undergone. The essay provides an absorbing study of how the lived experiences of some students can enhance their understanding of what might at first seem remote and demanding literature.

Our Annotated Bibliography for Teachers this issue is on “Race and Ethnicity: Saracens and Jews in Middle English Literature.” Part One of the bibliography offers a listing of critical backgrounds of general racial discourses in medieval Europe as a whole, extending beyond Middle English literature. The second and third parts begin with general works and then are subdivided into primary and secondary texts. Part Two addresses the medieval perspective of what it means to be Saracen, followed by smaller subsections organized by narrative types. Part Three, organized in the same manner, focuses on Jewish figures.

The authors of the essays in this issue demonstrate various ways in which medieval texts can be made relevant and important to this generation’s students. The essays’ forays into their topics make enlightening and enjoyable reading.

Gale Sigal
Wake Forest University

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Medievalists Respond to Charlottesville

In light of the recent events in the United States, most recently the racist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the undersigned community of medievalists condemns the appropriation of any item or idea or material in the service of white supremacy. In addition, we condemn the abuse of colleagues, particularly colleagues of color, who have spoken publicly against this misuse of history.

As scholars of the medieval world we are disturbed by the use of a nostalgic but inaccurate myth of the Middle Ages by racist movements in the United States. By using imagined medieval symbols, or names drawn from medieval terminology, they create a fantasy of a pure, white Europe that bears no relationship to reality. This fantasy not only hurts people in the present, it also distorts the past. Medieval Europe was diverse religiously, culturally, and ethnically, and medieval Europe was not the entire medieval world. Scholars disagree about the motivations of the Crusades—or, indeed, whether the idea of “crusade” is a medieval one or came later—but it is clear that racial purity was not primary among them.

Contemporary white nationalists are not the first Americans to have turned nostalgic views of the medieval period to racist purposes. It is, in fact, deeply ironic that the Klan’s ideas of medieval knighthood were used to harass immigrants who practiced the forms of Christianity most directly connected with the medieval church. Institutions of scholarship must acknowledge their own participation in the creation of interpretations of the Middle Ages (and other periods) that served these narratives. Where we do find bigotry, intolerance, hate, and fear of “the other” in the past—and the Middle Ages certainly had their share—we must recognize it for what it is and read it in its context, rather than replicating it.

The medieval Christian culture of Europe is indeed a worthy object of study, in fact a necessary one. Medieval Studies must be broader than just Europe and just Christianity, however, because to limit our object of study in such a way gives an arbitrary and false picture of the past. We see a medieval world that was as varied as the modern one. It included horrific violence, some of it committed in the name of religion; it included feats of bravery, justice, harmony, and love, some of them also in the name of religion. It included movement of people, goods, and ideas over long distances and across geographical, linguistic, and religious boundaries. There is much to be learned from studying the period, whether we choose to focus on one community and text or on wider interactions. What we will not find is the origin of a pure and supreme white race.

Every generation of scholars creates its own interpretations of the past. Such interpretations must be judged by how well they explain the writings, art, and artifacts that have come down to us. As a field we are dedicated to scholarly inquiry. As the new semester approaches at many institutions, we invite those of you who have the opportunity to join us. Take a class or attend a public lecture on medieval history, literature, art, music. Learn about this vibrant and varied world, instead of simply being appalled by some racist caricature of it. See for yourself what lessons it holds for the modern world.

The Medieval Academy of America
American Cusanus Society
BABEL Working Group
Delaware Valley Medieval Association
International Center for Medieval Art
International Congress on Medieval Studies
International Society for the Study of Medieval Theology
MEARCSTAPA (Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application)
Medievalists with Disabilities
Sewanee Medieval Colloquium
Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages
Southeastern Medieval Association
TEAMS: Teaching Association for Medieval Studies
The Fellowship of Medievalists of Color
The Gender and Medieval Studies Group
The International Arthurian Society-North American Branch
The International Association for Robin Hood Studies
The International Piers Plowman Society
The International Society of Anglo-Saxonists
The International Society for the Study of Medievalism
The John Gower Society
The Material Collective
The New Chaucer Society
The Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship

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TEAMS: Teaching Association for Medieval Studies

is pleased to welcome you to the

52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies

Open Bar Reception

Thursday — May 11, 2017

Starting at 6:00pm

Valley III, Harrison 302

 

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Seeking Submissions for the Fourth Annual TEAMS-Medieval Teaching Prize

Deadline for Submissions:  July 1, 2017!

TEAMS is seeking submissions for its fourth annual teaching prize for K-12 teachers. Teachers are encouraged to submit their original, unpublished lesson plans dealing with medieval studies topics for consideration. Teachers of winning submissions will receive cash prizes and publication of their lessons in the The Once and Future Classroom. Lessons might have been designed as part of a medieval unit, a component of a survey course, or be drawn from a class designed around a specific text or topic (i.e. Beowulf or Robin Hood). However they fit into your classroom, we want to see them!

Purpose: To recognize excellence in designing and teaching lessons in medieval studies, including but not limited to such areas as history, literature, and art history, in K-12 schools.

Award: Winning lessons will be published in the fall edition of The Once and Future Classroom. The first prize recipient will receive a cash award of $1000, and the second prize recipient will receive $500. Circumstances allowing, the first prize recipient of the 9-12 category will be asked to present his or her paper in a TEAMS-sponsored session at the following year’s International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at which time their award will be formally presented to them. A travel subsidy will be provided to the prize recipient to help make their involvement at the conference possible.

Format: The lesson should be submitted in a narrative format. TEAMS suggests the following elements be included as minimum guidelines:

An introduction that specifies for whom the lesson was designed, the purpose of the lesson, and how it fits into the larger unit or curriculum.

A body that discusses how the lesson was taught, including any preliminary preparation, details regarding implementation, and how student learning was assessed.

A conclusion that includes such things as reflections on the success of the lesson in the classroom and possible ways the lesson might be modified for different situations.

Appendices with any relevant handouts or other supporting materials, and/or a list of resources for students and teachers.

All submissions should include a cover sheet indicating the title of the lesson, the teacher’s name and title, the teacher’s institutional affiliation, and indicating which category the lesson falls under: grades K-8 or grades 9-12. Prizes may be awarded to either category or both, but not necessarily one to each.

Deadline: July 1, 2017.

Please feel free to complete the form below (copy and paste your submission into the box provided) or submit your application to: teachingprize@teams-medieval.org

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Become an OFFICIAL Member!

MEMBERSHIP

IS FREE

As a member, you will become entitled to a 25% discount on any MIP TEAMS book.   Please complete the MEMBERSHIP FORM, and you will receive a confirmation email within 84 hours.  (Your email address will be added to our mailing/discussion list.)

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Seeking Submissions for Spring 2017 Issue

The Once and Future Classroom is a TEAMS-sponsored peer-reviewed online journal dedicated to encouraging and facilitating medieval studies at all levels of instruction, including at the college level. This journal is for anyone interested in the teaching of any area related to the study of the Middle Ages. The pieces we publish include:

  • accounts of emerging work in fields of research related to the teaching of medieval studies
  • lesson plans
  • critical reviews of web resources, audiovisual materials, and other secondary works suitable for classroom use
  • reports on promising new classroom techniques, educational programs, curricula, digital innovations, and methods of evaluating instructional effectiveness
  • annotated bibliographies of medieval studies themes
  • responses to previous articles
  • reviews of literature and films related to medieval studies

Manuscripts and any additional inquiries should be submitted online or by post to: Gale Sigal, Managing Editor, at sigal@wfu.edu

Gale Sigal
Department of English
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC. 27109

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Medieval Tales in Performance

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to inform you of the existence of an exciting new performance platform, and to remind you of two other performance websites—all of which can be valuable to you in your teaching of the Middle Ages, and potentially in your scholarship as well.

The new performance platform is on Youtube and is titled “Medieval Tales in Performance”; its URL is  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2wz1uR1Sl93vNMWML2Ieyw   It showcases the exciting work of a number of young professional actors–and a highly talented videographer–who are doing great (and some unusual) scenes from medieval literature in a sophisticated and professional manner. The site also has links to medieval music and many other aspects of medieval culture. I think your students will really enjoy it!

And we remind you of “Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase” – http://mednar.org/   This site now contains over 200 clips of medieval narrative. It is a tremendous resource for all who teach medieval literature—your students can see and hear how scenes they read  might have been performed, or can be performed today. The site also has a bibliography, teaching tips and other useful tools.

Finally we remind you of our Vimeo site, devoted exclusively to Arthurian literature: “Arthurian Legend Performed” (http://vimeo.com/ArthurPerform).  Some of the clips are performed in the original languages; we plan to continue to expand this site.

All of these clips, on the various platforms, can be viewed on your cell phone as well as on your computer.

We welcome your feedback–and your suggestions for new clips.

Cheers—and wishing you a great year,
Timmie Vitz and Marilyn Lawrence
^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^   *   ^
Evelyn (Timmie) Birge Vitz
Professor of French, New York University

Acting Director of Undergraduate Study in French
Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature, Medieval
and Renaissance Studies, and Religious Studies
19 University Place, #623, New York, NY 10003
New! “Medieval Tales in Performance”: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2wz1uR1Sl93vNMWML2Ieyw
“Performing Medieval Narrative Today: A Video Showcase” –http://mednar.org/  
“Arthurian Legend Performed” – http://vimeo.com/ArthurPerform 
NYU Research page: http://french.as.nyu.edu/object/EvelynBirgeVitz.html

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