Welcome to the Spring 2008 issue of The Once and Future Classroom. We are delighted to offer you another interesting set of resources to inspire and support you in your efforts to introduce your students to medieval studies. Some features will be familiar to you. This issue’s Librarian’s Corner offers you an extensive bibliography on the topic of chivalry by Daniel Franke. This fascinating topic could complement your curriculum in a variety of contexts and offers a range of texts, both academic and imaginative, to help students learn more about chivalry as a code, a culture, a social group and an ideology. The medieval warrior remained a compelling character for post-medieval cultures. Knights and other warriors are still popular in the imaginary worlds our students inhabit: in their movies, books, and video games. Many of us came to medieval studies along similar paths. But as teachers we sometimes struggle with our students’ preconceptions or misconceptions about medieval studies due to their immersion in what Umberto Eco has called the “dreams of the Middle Ages.” Our article for this issue addresses how “medievalism” can serve as a porthole to the “real” Middle Ages. Professor Christina Fitzgerald’s account of how she used Tolkien to introduce eighth graders to Old English runes and riddles shows just how we can use our students’ interests in medievalist topics to reveal to them the particular delights of medieval studies.
Our second article (of sorts) this month requires a bit of explanation, as it is a new format. This feature also addresses the issue of medievalism in the classroom; in this case, the pedagogical value of the most recent incarnation of a medieval warrior on the silver screen, Zemeckis’ Beowulf (2007). In advance of the movie’s release, I received promotional materials for the movie in my university mailbox: a poster that incorporated a study guide on the back side—provided free of charge from a group identified as Young Minds Inspired in partnership with Paramount Pictures. Baffled by reviews and promotional material that paradoxically promoted the “great literature” value of the film while frequently denigrating the poem on which the film is loosely based (i.e. the poem was tedious in school, but the film is great), I was all the more disconcerted by Paramount’s use of classrooms as advertisement venues. At the same time, even without YMI’s study guide, teachers do use films in the classroom in interesting and meaningful ways. Consequently, I invited three respondents whose expertise as medieval scholars and/or teachers could frame a range of responses to this particular medieval dream and its potential as a teaching tool. This piece is perhaps more informal that the usual OFC material, as our reviewers were encouraged to channel their inner movie critics. In any case, I hope you will find the roundtable of reviews to be enlightening as well as entertaining!
As always, I welcome your comments and eagerly await any inquiries or submissions you would like to send to us.
Original Citation: The Once and Future Classroom , Volume VI, Issue 1, Spring 2008 http://www.teamsmedieval.org/ofc/SP08/ed.php
NOTE: Links have been corrected and/or deleted. The original “look and feel” of the journal has been preserved as much as possible, but the original logos have also been removed. No editing to the actual texts has been done since their original publication.