learning outcomes

SYLLABUS PART 3: HELP (2017)

LAST UPDATED: 2017-09-09
(The second general-purpose appendix to any syllabus.)

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If in doubt, if you have any questions or worries about anything, please ask!

  • this course, your class, and your instructor are a safe space and here to help
  • if I don’t know an answer—I’m merely human—I’ll help you to find someone who does
  • this is a community of care

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SYLLABUS PART 2: THE RULES (2017)

It’s that time of year again. Time for updating the general-purpose appendix to all syllabus for all courses…

LAST UPDATED: 2017-09-14

la règle du jeu / renoir

QUICK  NAVIGATION  (more…)

This is education

IMG_9957Today is the anniversary of the death of Ken Campbell, anarchist polymath genius.

Reader of everything. Writer. Performer. Creator. Stand up comedian, speculative fictioneer, improviser, paranomasiac, marvelling revelling adventurer in existence.

Public outreach educator and life-long learning experimenter in ways beyond the wildest imaginings of Proper Professionals in these fields before they or these fields even existed. The next time you consider using words like “innovation,” “innovative,” “innovator”: have some respect. Think first. Check with reference to Ken. If philology provides a theoretical meaning, it is Ken who provides—incarnates—a reference-point for lived active practice.

As we academics start the new year, welcome new students, and train new graduate-student Teaching Assistants, please consider giving half an hour of your time to Ken; from whom one can learn more, and more deeply, in that time than in a year’s worth of Professionalisation Training Programmes by Proper Education Specialists.

I miss Ken.

I love this video and hope you do too. May watching Ken again become an annual ritual, a commemoration to bring in the academic new year.

(TW: Contains death and diddling, and Latin and love.)

University undergraduate liberal arts education is #AntiFascistSFF

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A special bonus post in celebration of the Happy Academic New Year; all images (except one) are from the brilliant Scarfolk Council (scarfolk.blogspot.com), which you MUST visit forthwith if you have not already done so.  (more…)

Make the essay Montaignian again (2)

This started out as a short post about worrying. It is dedicated to my FREN 220 students who will be sitting their final exam next week, to other students preparing for and sitting exams (notwithstanding amusing attempts to undermine our exam season), and to students more generally. You are why faculty are here. And we are here for you. We worry. We want to help: in respectful support.

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Make Essays Montaignian Again


Image credit: Antony Gormley
(TW: includes cannibals, zombies, bilingualism, and other monsters.)
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Consent culture, compliance culture, and hypocrisy



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Literary warm-up exercise for stretching imaginative muscles / un exercice d’échauffement littéraire : l’imagination au pouvoir

Margins and marginality are wonderful, as are their transgression and subversion and any play with them. But, as all wearers of glasses know, frames can be fun too.

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This is a piece about frames and framing. Updates seem to be turning it into an illustrated prosimetrical short story about liminality and its horrors. Which was unexpected and is weird. Blame the uncanny conjunction of borders and walls in the news, UBC, bande dessinée, Guy de Maupassant, and Marguerite Porete. (more…)

Teaching the “Roman de la Rose” in hyper-really allegorical times: Apocalypse Now

Previously on UBC Medieval Studies 301A: European Literature from the 5th to the 14th Century – “THE LIBERAL ARTS”:

Expanding an excerpt from the previous post, going beyond embedded screenshots, welcome to The Middle Week of the course en direct. 17-23 October 2016; with classes on the 18th and the 20th.

At the midpoint of the term, the course, and the book: expect chiasmic hinges. A week before Samhain: expect a thinning of the veils between realities. I didn’t expect that this would be the class where we digressed the most from The Rough Plan and where those digressions were all relevant: this was the set of class notes that expanded the most, from the preparatory pre-class version to the full version after the week’s classes. I certainly didn’t expect that this would be the class that really brought us all together, in delighted fascination at the actual mathematics of the number 666, as shown by an actual mathematician (whose final project was an allegory, a dystopian speculative fiction short story).

Expect the unexpected, as ever, in teaching.

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Experimental Medievalist Teaching: a talk for @UBC Early Romance Studies Research Cluster about #mdvl301a (part 2 of 2)

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III. A MEDIEVALIST TEACHING EXPERIMENT

(Continuing from part 1. Long. This is what I’ve been working on from September through December.)

The rest of this talk was about a practical experiment in medievalist teaching last term. MDVL301a was a third-year undergraduate course in Medieval Studies, on 5th-14th c. European literature. The image above was at its beginning and end and visually centred the course. Further investigation of the image—reading, research, contextualising—sets up some key questions and critical comments about education (higher / advanced and otherwise). The image is from the 12th-century Hortus deliciarum by Herrad of Landsberg: an encyclopaedic work containing and about knowledge, for educational purposes, written by a scholar-teacher with others (including students) as a collaborative work, in an institution of advanced learning founded in the 7th century. Not a university. Not a university academic. By people who are excluded from the medieval university, yet are persons of privilege and high rank. And yet: part of the same world of learning, composed of people and networks devoting their lives to learning; a world that is also one of lifelong learning.

The course combined three principal elements:

(1) From the 5th-century start, delimitation, confine, bounds…
A theme: THE LIBERAL ARTS

  • Through a literary work: DE NUPTIIS PHILOLOGIAE ET MERCURII
  • What are the liberal arts?
  • What is a liberal arts education at a university?
  • What is a university?
  • What are these things, what’s their point, what do they mean?
  • What can the medieval liberal arts tell us about its present-day relative, and how might higher education in the present day learn from its medieval cousin?

(2) From the 14th-century end of the parameters, borders again…
A literary work, at the centre of the course: LE ROMAN DE LA ROSE

  • that looked back to the 5th century (and before, and all over Europe)
  • and forward to the 14th century (and into the 15th, and the first recorded debate about vernacular literature in Europe; and indeed further beyond the usual limits of the medieval)

(3) Bridging the 5th- and 14th-century “ends,” an overarching structure…
A form: THE ROSE
A mode: ALLEGORY

  • a course that was shaped something like its material
  • circular and spiral shapes, wheels, and globes
  • serving as a gateway (the circular Stargate, the Chinese and Bermudan Moongate) into an other world and other ways of thinking and being:
  • non-linearity, rose-structures, in movement, with multiple points of view, multiplicity and polyphony and polysemy, allegory, and satire
  • seeing and thinking imaginatively, metaphorically, poetically
  • and a conjunction of creativity and criticism that can enable people to stand, defend, hope, and survive against hypocrisy and whatever else Life and Fortune send our way


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