Year Awarded: 2009
College of Arts & Humanities
The common feature of all medieval literature, despite differences in authors, cultures, and genres, is that it is very, very old, and for my pedagogy to be effective, I must demonstrate that this old literature is still very much alive. To accomplish this goal, I rely upon pedagogical practices that center on students as individuals and as members of a learning community. On an individual level, I ask that students respond to course readings with analytic rigor and imaginative empathy. For example, to understand Beowulf we must explore it within its own cultural context, paying close attention to its narrative structure and language, as well as the ways in which it engages with Anglo-Saxon legendary history. But a text is not a lifeless corpse only meant for critical dissection, and I also ask my students to make connections between the past and the present. How does Beowulf enlighten current constructions of gender, for example, or how does it comment on the current War on Terrorism? The issues with which medieval literature engages never die, and I provide ample opportunities for my students to consider a text rigorously while engaging with its issues imaginatively.
My role in the educational process is to adapt to new challenges and changing conditions in the continual quest to foster personal initiative in students while providing guidance that does not devolve into a crutch. For students to develop into independent critica