Freshman Writing Seminar, “Aspects of Medieval Culture: Young Idiots vs. Toxic Elders”
Cornell University, Spring 2017
“Kids these days,” “back in my day,” and “boring old men”—how far back do these complaints go? The current rhetoric of generational strife pits “Baby Boomers” against “Millennials,” spawning a supposedly unprecedented flurry of thinkpieces and commentary. We will examine the medieval predecessors of these attitudes by looking at English poetry, treatises, and chronicles from Beowulf to Chaucer. The course will track the changing stereotypes of the ages of life, the various medieval medical and religious approaches to aging, the social consequences of demographic upheavals, and the recurring narrative of youth against age. Writing assignments will focus on crafting persuasive, clear arguments. Students will acquire skills in mining texts for evidence, conducting historical research, anticipating counterarguments, expressing relevancy, and adapting writing for different audiences.
Freshman Writing Seminar, “Otherworlds of Medieval Literature”
Cornell University, Spring 2016, Fall 2016
What do we imagine past the margins of our world, and how do we draw those borders? This course will explore literary representations of medieval Otherworlds, ranging from islands of the dead and eerie realms under hills to preposterous foreign lands where enormous Christian armies wait to turn the course of history. Course readings will draw from disparate genres: chronicles, hagiographies, travel narratives, tales of King Arthur, lais, and ballads. At the end of the semester we will touch on recent adaptations of medieval Otherworlds. We will consider the political, religious, and nation-building agendas behind these ostensibly distant or imaginary lands, as well as modern echoes in fiction, news, and cyberspace. Assignments will include written responses to the readings, structured close readings, and formal essays building on classroom discussions.
Freshman Writing Seminar, “Legend, Fantasy, and Vision: The Evolution of Fairy Tales”
Cornell University, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
Incest, murders, strip teases, single mothers, a soulless protagonist—what else is Disney leaving out? This course will trace popular tales back to disturbingly unfamiliar forms and compare them to current trends in telling fairy tales. We will question what defines a fairy tale and why so many authors have felt compelled to adapt these tales into sanitized, religious, queer, feminist, gory, saccharine, parodic, admonitory, and sexualized retellings. Readings will range from medieval texts and Hans Christian Andersen to Angela Carter and twenty-first-century multimedia. Short responses, analytical essays, and a creative writing assignment will strengthen students’ writing and critical reasoning.
Teaching Assistant Experience:
“Masterworks of Literature: British: Literature and Culture,” with Douglas Bruster
2 sections, University of Texas at Austin, Spring 2013
“Masterworks of Literature: British: Literature of Charity and Philanthropy,” with Elizabeth Hedrick
2 sections, University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2012
“Masterworks of Literature: British: Literature in History,” with Wayne Rebhorn
2 sections, University of Texas at Austin, Spring 2012
“Masterworks of Literature: British: Literature of Virtue and Heroism,” with Elizabeth Hedrick
2 sections, University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2011