Like a Virgin: Gender and Sexuality in Medieval and Early Modern European Literature
ASC, upper-division literature and women’s studies course, English 340/Women's Studies 345, spring 2019
Reading medieval and early modern European literature alongside recent gender studies scholarship and feminist theory, we will examine how these literary works construct femininity, masculinity, and sometimes a separate, third gender for the chaste monk or nun. From virgin martyrs to cross-dressing saints to castrated theologians, medieval religious literature often shaped the individual’s relationship to God through gendered imagery. In a typical case, Bernard of Clairvaux characterized the soul as feminine in a spousal relationship to Christ the bridegroom. Gender, however, was not conceived in binary terms in medieval literature, especially religious texts. For example, Julian of Norwich represented Jesus as a mother in her Revelations. Our early modern readings include misogynistic plays, treatises on idealized female communities, and courtly poetry expressing same-sex desire. In the final weeks of the course, we will discuss gender alongside sexuality, including virginity, courtly love relationships, and rape and consent. We will explore how pre-modern texts shape and represent what we would call “sexual orientation” today. Potential assignments for the course include an analysis of a gender studies article and a visual analysis of how a medieval manuscript illumination or early modern painting presents the gendered identity of a saint, queen, king, or other figure.
Shakespeare and the Medieval Tradition
ASC, upper-division literature course, English 234: Studies in Shakespeare, fall 2018
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In this course, we will read five Shakespeare plays of a variety of genres, including The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Richard III, Measure for Measure, and Romeo and Juliet. In each unit, we will read a medieval or early modern text before or after the Shakespeare play. Some of these works served as direct source material for Shakespeare’s plays, while others provide us with a context in which to interpret Shakespeare’s work in relation to medieval literary and dramatic traditions. For example, in our second unit, we read King Lear alongside excerpts from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain and Holinshed’s Chronicles to explore how both pre-modern history writers and Shakespeare constructed a narrative about Britain’s ancient history. The non-Shakespearean readings include excerpts from the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, St Thomas More, Giovanni Boccaccio, and John Donne. We will also read a passage from the Bible, a fairytale, and several works of recent scholarship on Shakespeare and his medieval sources. The major assignments for the course include an exercise in making a quarto manuscript with an accompanying paper, a presentation and short paper on a modern adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s plays, and a longer research or creative project.
Literature and the Arts: Medieval to Modern
Emory, upper-division literature course, English 211W: Literature and Other Arts, fall 2017
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We will read medieval literature within its original multimedia context, an artistic culture which includes painting, manuscript illuminations, architecture, sculpture, and more. We will extend our analysis outside the chronological bounds of the Middle Ages (500–1500), pairing medieval works with later text(s) and/or image(s) inspired by a medieval story or theme. Through our readings, we will discuss the place of medieval literature as a form of “making” within a flourishing artistic culture, the ways that different art forms allow us to tell different types of stories, and how medieval narratives and themes permeate literature and art to the present. This writing-intensive course features a series of short papers, including a visual analysis of medieval monster images, an analysis of the materiality of a medieval manuscript, a spatial analysis of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, an online exhibit of medieval-inspired art, a creative project on a stanza of Chaucer's ABC poem, and a final revised and expanded essay.
History of the English Language
Emory, upper-division linguistics course which fulfills continuing writing requirement, Linguistics/English 360W, spring 2018
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This course surveys the linguistic and cultural development of the English language, from Indo-European origins to its status as a global language in the twenty-first century. We will explore the language and pronunciation of Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, and contemporary dialects. Along with linguistic concepts like semantics, phonology, morphology, and syntax, we will also study the cultural and historical context for language change, including the influence of invasions and wars, literary and material culture, and social identities such as gender, race and ethnicity, social class, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, and age. To understand the effects of material culture on the development of the English language, we will complete several hands-on activities, including writing with goose feather quills on vellum, an exercise in making a quarto manuscript, and practice with a printing press.
Intercultural Discourse for Global Internships
Emory, online course accompanying summer global internship program, Linguistics 343, summer 2018
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This course introduces students to studies in intercultural communication, occupational sociology, and professional discourse. Using various methods, such as ethnography and linguistic landscape, each student examines both her host city and her internship organization as field sites. Students learn to observe, analyze, and question language use and cultural norms, as well as professional expectations. Moreover, through this course, students will be able to share and reflect upon their and their peers’ developing identities as global citizens; students from several work sites will have the opportunity to discuss and compare all stages of the internship experience. Additionally, a goal of this course is to give each student the ability to connect her internship experience directly to her liberal arts education.
Women's Life Writing
ASC, first-year writing course, English 110, spring 2017
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In this course, we will read autobiographies of women from a range of periods and cultures. Readings will include graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi and Allie Brosh as well as memoirs by Harriet Jacobs, Maya Angelou, and Mindy Kaling. We will consider the function of different media in life writing by reading not only texts but also graphic novels. Students will compose a variety of assignments including forum posts on Moodle, a social media auto/biography, a visual rhetorical analysis, a researched rhetorical analysis, and a final portfolio. We will consider the relationship between autobiography and other genres, and we will explore strategies female writers use to construct their authority. This course engages students in critical inquiry through reading, discussion, oral presentations, and writing, emphasizing an in-depth exploration of the writing process from generating ideas, to revising, to polishing the final draft.
Women's Auto/Biographies from the 3rd Century to the 21st
Emory, first-year writing course, English 101, spring 2016
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In this course, we read excerpts from biographies and autobiographies dating from the early 3rd century all the way up to 2013. Readings include female saints’ lives (textual and visual) and autobiographical writings by Hildegard of Bingen, Margery Kempe, Harriet Jacobs, Maya Angelou, Marjane Satrapi, Mindy Kaling, and Allie Brosh. We consider the function of different media in life writing by reading not only texts but also graphic novels and visual biographies. Students compose in a variety of media and genres with assignments such as weekly blog posts, a social media biography, a visual rhetorical analysis, a visual memoir, and a researched rhetorical analysis. We consider the relationship between auto/biography and other genres, and we explore strategies female writers use to construct their authority. Click here to view a gallery of students' research projects from the course.
Medieval Heroes and Monsters
Emory, first-year writing course, English 181, fall 2015
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In this course, students develop critical reading, analytical writing, and rhetorical presentation skills while exploring the way that exemplarity and monstrosity are constructed in medieval literature and art. Reading assignments include The Voyage of St Brendan, John Mandeville’s Travels, medieval saints’ lives, romances, sermons, chronicles, and visual narratives of monsters and heroes in manuscripts, stained glass, and wall paintings. All texts in the course engage with the question of exemplarity broadly, including the rhetorical strategies authors use to construct heroes and the ideological motivations for labeling certain figures as monstrous. Reading and writing assignments will engage with the visual as a form of “text” or argument, and students will compose in multiple modes and genres, including a rhetorical analysis, a visual analysis, an analysis of the materiality of a medieval manuscript, and a final multimodal research project and presentation. Click here to view two galleries of student projects from the course.