Courses

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, NORTHEASTERN STATE UNIVERSITY, 2019–
LITERATURE
British Literature I: Origins to 1800
Undergraduate survey course, requirement for English and English Education majors, ENGL 3543, fall 2019
This survey course is designed to give students a basic understanding of early British literary history, from Anglo-Saxon literature through the eighteenth century. Along with reading a wide variety of literary works, we will also consider the historical, political, social, and cultural contexts for medieval and early modern literature. For our discussion of medieval literature (500–1500), we read texts (in translation) which were originally composed in a variety of languages, including Old Irish (OI), Old English (OE), Latin, Old Norse (ON), Middle Welsh (MW), Anglo-French (AF), Anglo-Hebrew (AH), and Middle English (ME). The multilingual nature of our readings reflects the multicultural society of medieval Britain and demonstrates that literature in other languages influenced the development of English works. Instead of moving through the readings chronologically, each week we will discuss a few texts which fit into a genre or theme common in medieval and early modern literature. Through these groupings, we will learn about how a theme or genre developed over time, and we will compare texts written centuries apart for their treatment of similar topics. We will read literature in a variety of genres, including epic, chronicle, lais, lyric, sonnet, saga, saint’s life, dream vision, romance, and drama.
Gender and Sexuality in Medieval World Literature
Upper-division undergraduate course, advanced elective for majors, and master's seminar, ENGL 4913/5633, spring 2020
As an upper-division world literature elective, this course will include authors from various early literary cultures, including medieval Arabic, Chinese, English, Ethiopian, French, German, Japanese, Latin, Mongolian, Persian, Tamil, and Welsh. From lyric poetry and romance to saints’ lives and letters, the premodern primary sources in the class will include a variety of genres and literary forms. Reading premodern world literature alongside gender studies scholarship and feminist theory, we will examine how literary works comment upon and construct gender and sexuality. One unit will focus on female rulers, including an account of the Queen of Sheba in the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast; other units will address consent, marriage, sexual orientation, transgender saints, and virginity. By examining literature, gender, and sexuality from a global perspective, we will have the opportunity to analyze readings both comparatively and in specific cultural and historic contexts. The course will use the “global Middle Ages” as an organizing principle, while also introducing students to the limitations of the framework and the challenges of analyzing literature in translation. We will discuss and debate concepts related to world literature, canon formation, and literary history.
Shakespeare: Histories and Comedies
Upper-division undergraduate course, advanced elective for majors, and master's seminar, ENGL 4203/5583, fall 2019
This semester, we will read five of Shakespeare’s plays: two comedies, The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice; two histories, Henry V and Richard III; and a “problem play,” Measure for Measure, which is usually classified as a comedy. In each unit, we will read a medieval or early modern text alongside each 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 earlier literary and dramatic traditions. The non-Shakespearean readings include excerpts from the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, Sir Thomas More, and Raphael Holinshed. We will also read a passage from the Bible, a novella, a saint’s life, two legal documents, and several works of recent scholarship on Shakespeare and his sources.
World Literature
Undergraduate survey course, requirement for English Education majors, ENGL 3413, fall 2019 & spring 2020
This world literature survey introduces students to a wide range of literary works from authors across the world and the centuries. The class this semester includes units on travel, myth, and magical realism. Readings represent a variety of literary forms, including graphic novel, play, poem, Scripture, and essay. Authors include Euripides, Voltaire, Marjane Satrapi, and Joy Harjo.
LINGUISTICS
History of the English Language
Upper-division undergraduate course, requirement for English Education majors, ENGL 4663, fall 2019 & spring 2020
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.
MELLON TEACHING FELLOW, AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE, 2018–2019
LITERATURE
Like a Virgin: Gender and Sexuality in Medieval and Early Modern European Literature
Upper-division literature and women’s studies course, ENG 340/WS 345, spring 2019
Syllabus
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. Bernard of Clairvaux characterized the soul as feminine in a spousal relationship to Christ the bridegroom, and Julian of Norwich represented Jesus as a mother in her Revelations. Gender was not conceived in binary terms in medieval literature. One of our primary readings will be Silence, a medieval romance that features a cross-dressing daughter (Silence) who transitions to live as a male knight. Our medieval and early modern readings include treatises on idealized female communities, love letters between nuns, antifeminist literature, both Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s treatment of the rape of Lucretia, and a fifteenth-century Welsh woman’s “Ode to the Vagina.” Assignments for the course include several literary analysis papers, a critique of a gender studies article, discussion leadership (in teams of two), and a final revised and expanded paper.
Shakespeare and the Medieval Tradition
Upper-division literature course, ENG 234, fall 2018
Syllabus
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.
WRITING
Women's Life Writing
First-year writing course, ENG 110, spring 2017
Syllabus
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.
INSTRUCTOR, EMORY UNIVERSITY, 2015–2019
LITERATURE
Literature and the Arts: Medieval to Modern
Upper-division literature course, ENG 211W, fall 2017
Syllabus and course website: eng211.jennycbledsoe.com
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.
LINGUISTICS
History of the English Language
Upper-division linguistics course which fulfills continuing writing requirement, LING/ENG 360W, spring 2018
Syllabus
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
Online linguistics course accompanying summer global internship program, LING 343, summer 2018 & 2019
Syllabi: summer 2018 and summer 2019
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.
WRITING
Women's Auto/Biographies from the 3rd Century to the 21st
First-year writing course, ENG 101, spring 2016
Syllabus and course website: eng101.jennycbledsoe.com
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
First-year writing course, ENG 181, fall 2015
Syllabus and course website: eng181.jennycbledsoe.com
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.