medieval studies

Translation, transformation, magical mid-points, and other werewolves


In the “Animal Reading” lecture this week, we had a backdrop of changing forest scenery while attempting werewolfish reading; today is under the sign of the dog, wolf, and werewolf.

References are to the Penguin Classics editions (Marie trans. Burgess, Montaigne trans. Screech), as this course is taught through English and using translations—with occasional reference, today for example, to the original—in readily-available cheap paperback, that can be obtained second-hand for little, as a compromise between keeping student costs down and retaining content and quality. ‪And having complete books—not dismembered extracts—out of ecosystemic respect.‬

From the syllabus:


  • TOPIC:
    Animals communicating with humans and reading them, anthropomorphic animals, and metamorphosing humans
    • Marie de France: Bisclavret, Yonec
    • Montaigne: I. 8, 11, 14, 36, 48 – II. 11, 27, 30
    • (+ II. 12 excerpts)


Meet the marvellous Marie de France (old notes)

Here are some old notes from January 2018, the last time I taught about Marie de France. I’m posting them here as they might be useful for someone else who’s just started to teach, or is teaching this term, or looking for some stuff to use (maps!) and is introducing this whole marvellous world to a new audience. A new audience who are intelligent imaginative adults, well-read in many areas including ones in which I am not. This kind of thing is way harder to think through, write, and attempt to communicate than detailed close reading. A true story from ancient history: it took me longer to write its introduction (which turned into an introduction and first chapter) than the rest of my doctoral dissertation; as it had to be passed not just by a panel of three specialist experts but by a whole French & Italian department.

Context here: a 300-level undergraduate Medieval Studies course on MARVELS.

Performance notes… (BNF NAF 1104 f. 1r)

Frogs splashing and hopping around: RMST 221B notes, Week 2, Thursday

Preamble or postscript: some more Kermit the Frog … (more…)

Syllabus (1): 200-level Romance Studies, medieval to early modern, “Animal Reading”

Here’s another syllabus, again in the interests of sharing resources, in case it helps others elsewhere and as this is a public university in a part of the world (BC, Canada) that’s keen on open education. This one is for UBC RMST 221B. There’s a publicly-accessible version at UBC Blogs (this is just a copy from there). That site also has other materials for students (there will be more next week), and more on UBC’s “Learning Management System” (yes, I know, sorry). These are just for my students (sorry). I have once again over-complicated my own life, and perhaps that of others, by including not one but TWO kinds of weekly discussion (on that LMS, Canvas). And by integrating peer assessment and self-assessment. And by trying to figure out a Cunning Plan for reading Montaigne’s Essays in one term. And it’s not the only reading. The Cunning Plan hinges on different kinds of reading, and on collaborative reading in a way that, I hope, will create a community of learning and knowledge in the class. (Famous last words, ask me again in December. Or in two weeks.) There will be a Public Knowledge contribution: “Humanimals Reading: A Local Bestiary.” More on that in December.

I am very excited about all of this.


Sneak preview: #RMST221B – “Animal Reading” course design work in progress