Experiential Learning: Immersive Classrooms and Conferences. By Aria Bamford


A Semester in the Liminal Space: Bridging the Gaps in Medieval Literature and Journeying Through Spaces of Learning

The Journey from the Online Space to the Immersion Studio: Experiential Learning

I had only taken one medieval course prior to the Winter 2022 semester. We, along with most others, found ourselves online (due to the Covid-19 pandemic), looking at the tiny windows on our blue screens, and trying to have conversation and debates despite the awkwardness of the form and the crackling of microphones. Dr. Olsen began our first lecture by talking about what the semester was going to look like. She stated, that hopefully, and depending on the Covid stats, we would be returning to in-person seminars within weeks, which we did. Dr. O discussed what it would look like when we could return to in-person learning; we would be meeting in the immersion studio and discussing medieval works while being surrounded by images and sounds. This is what she said. I had no idea what an immersion studio was, or what sort of images and sounds would be surrounding me, but I was excited. I’ll admit, a small part of me remembered my favourite Disneyland ride as a child, the one where you fly on a simulated plane and smell the orange fields.

It wasn’t exactly like this, but it certainly was more interactive than any class I had taken. This immersive style of learning was something brand-new to me, especially within the field of literary studies. I was accustomed to reading the texts, and in some unique cases watching plays online, but the images that surrounded me in the studio allowed me to see things within the texts that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. It felt bizarre to be able to close-read better by taking a step away from the literature and looking at images that on their surfaces seem to be unrelated to the texts.

One class, Dr. O read “The Ruin” while we were surrounded by a cityscape of Calgary. This pairing of a medieval poem with a post-medieval landscape allowed me to see the theme of inevitable destruction that is so prevalent in medieval literature, and undeniably a present-day concern. The immersion studio gave a clearer representation of the ideas invoked by “The Ruin” for the medieval reader – in some ways, immersion closed (or at least provided a bridge over the) gap between now and then. I saw images of Calgary, and read about destruction, and it wasn’t a stretch to pair the ideas together.

As I continued within the world of medieval literature it became clear to me that my standard dichotomous thinking was not going to work when trying to interpret these texts. Jennifer Neville discusses these dichotomous approaches at length in her paper “Defining the Natural.” She examines the post-medieval tendency to separate the natural and unnatural into the category of human and non-human, but any medievalist will tell you that this was not way that the medieval thinkers thought about the world around them, at least not early medieval thinkers. Rather than thinking of things as this or that, or us and other, the early medieval thinkers had a more holistic way of seeing the world. Things did not have to be natural or unnatural, material or technological, one or many, good or bad, rather, things often, especially within the natural world (and the people living in it), were all of the above. It is for this reason that I think a study of medieval literature is more about intersection and hybridity of dichotomous ideas than the dichotomous concepts themselves. Perhaps the study of oecologies within medieval texts is not a study of what separates one from their environment, but rather, what the role one plays in that study (and vise-versa). In Ecocriticism, to view things through a dichotomous lens is problematic both in medieval texts and in present day ecological issues.

The Journey from the Classroom to an Academic Conference: Understanding Hybridity

A major question throughout the semester was, “how do we bridge the gap between modern day readers and medieval thinkers (and writers)?” I would argue that there are many methods of learning that attempt to minimize space between us and the texts we read. This can be done through the immersion studio, as I discussed earlier, or through the study of ancient materials; at the conference of the Medieval Association of the Pacific (Banff, AB), Marina Fischer, Peter Houston, and Annie Murray all discussed medieval materials in their panel “Decoding Medieval Numismatic Sources and Their Use in Academic Pedagogical Spaces.” They noted that interactions with these materials enhance our understandings of them. As Fischer remarked, to be able to hold a coin from the medieval time-period allows for students to feel what it felt like to hold what a medieval person held. While there is something to be said for the elevation of meaning that occurs over time periods (like how an everyday coin in now preserved in a library and worth so much more than it was during its time), the connection between materiality and history is indisputable. These materials carry with them history, and as Murray pointed out in her presentation, they mean, “so much more when you experience them personally.”

This intersection between material and non-material was discussed multiple times during the conference. In the Panel (Mis)understanding The Medieval, Logan Pollon discussed hybridity, specifically within “Beowulf.” At first, Pollon discussed the character of Grendel, who exhibits both human and nonhuman attributes, and in that way becomes a hybrid themself. Grendel, and Grendel’s mother are both outside of culture, and defined by it. One is able to see this countless times within medieval literature: the Green Knight is a character of hybridity, as well as the Rood in “The Dream of the Rood”. This theme reminded me of a question discussed at length during our semester: how can we ever define the natural world in any other terms than human terms, and in that way, how are we ever supposed to see the natural world for what it is outside of what it is to us? The many objects that are created from the natural – the stone made
into a structure in “The Ruin”, the Reed into a pen in Riddle 60 from the Exeter Book, the tree into rood in “The Dream of the Rood” (and Riddle 73), and the sword in Beowulf – are physical representations of this. They exist in the in-between of being both human and non-human, each having authority as a material (a theme discussed by Matthew Scribner in his paper “Tree and Technology”), and as a tool for humans. The Green Knight then, is granted authority to critique
the human realm and humanities interaction with the natural realm because the Green Knight has lived experience of both. Scribner remarks that the cross in “The Dream of the Rood” functions as this intersection point, and must be read as such (rather than with the “reproduced binary”
between humans and the “other”) 1 . So, in the same way that the coins carry with them history, these objects carry with them moral ponderings, anxieties of destruction, and a clear theme of connection. History, as well as the medieval texts, consist of people, and materials, and environments, and the people, materials and environments are immortalized by them.

This counter-colonial idea of things as a whole, rather than as separate entities, was a large theme within Dr Wallace Cleaves’ presentation; he spoke about Indigenous people and their relationships to the environments they exist within. This idea of stewardship is more than just preserving an environment because of what it offers us – it is about having a responsibility to the environment to care for it well. The colonial perspective splits concepts into categories, and
disallows for the natural to be fluid and changing. If things within the environment are either good or bad, then the environment itself is other, but as humans, I would argue (especially after hearing so many people speak on these themes at the conference,) we desire hybridity, and that we understand that our world is not just this or that. Thomas King discusses this in his series “The Truth About Story”; he discusses that it is a colonial idea that things are either good or bad, and that it stems from our creation stories. The initial sin of Adam and Eve creates this dichotomous idea that things are either good or bad, whereas in many Indigenous origin stories, these dichotomies are not present. This is one of the reasons that I found Dr. Cleaves’ choice to begin by telling a creation story (of the turtles with the mud on their back) so significant. It seems as though where we come from has a large impact on where we see ourselves now.

This idea of destruction and decay being accepted, and not avoided is one that Cleaves spoke about when he brought forth the idea of controlled burns within the environment. To be able to help an environment be destroyed in order for it to grow back more abundantly is a key part of stewardship. Decay is not always bad. This acceptance of decaying is also one that we see time and time again within medieval literature. In Chaucer’s “House of Fame”, he comments on the inevitable decay of the world by examining the ice with people’s names on it melting. This anxiety that he displays (that everything comes to an end) has an undercurrent of acceptance that it will.

The Journey from Then to Now: Stepping into Environments

I think that throughout this semester I was able to appreciate not only the need to retire my dichotomous thinking methods when looking to the past, but also the need to abandon it when looking at the present, and to the future. I think a key-way to do this is to look to other perspectives, and acknowledge the ways that they encourage hybridity and inclusion. The Green Knight himself is both natural and human – he critiques society in a way I argue we all must. It is
futile to try to separate concepts within the natural (within Medieval literature and in present day ecological conversations), and I argue that rather than this method of separation, we must instead study their intersection points, becoming more comfortable as scholars who exist in the liminal space. It is true that perhaps the only constant thing about the Natural is that it is transient, always moving, always changing. Seasons change from spring to summer, from summer to fall. The environment cycles through death, decay and regrowth. We may not be on the linear path to progress, one that is the popular narrative in our culture and that sets us far apart (and as some ignorant people would argue above) the medieval person, but instead, we find ourselves in the same natural cycles.

Works Cited

Cleaves, Wallace. “Human-Nature: Stewardship and Kynde Relationality Between the Medieval Wilderness and the Indigenous Environment”. Medieval Association of the Pacific, April 22nd , 2022, Banff, AB.

Neville, Jennifer. “Defining the Natural World.” Representations of the Natural World in Old English Poetry, Cambridge UP, 1999, pp. 1-18.

Pollon, Logan. “Has Beowulf Been Modern? Unearthing and Examining Nature and Society in Beowulf”. Medieval Association of the Pacific, April 22nd , 2022, Banff, AB.

Scribner, Matthew. “Tree and Technology: Articulating the Ecological in ‘The Dream of the Rood’”. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 23.2 (Spring 2016), pp. 240-258, Accessed 2022-04-25.

The Elsewhere, Hybridity, and Medieval Literature in Class and Conference. By Taylor Harvey


The Elsewhere: A Solution to our Ecocritical Imaginings

A large part of oecologies relies on the imagined as it manifests itself within the idea of the Elsewhere. The Elsewhere is both a theoretical understanding of hybridity but I believe it is both a very real and imagined place. It is the bridge between acknowledging the past and understanding that the current future is no longer an option (a source of acute anxiety for myself and I’m sure the generation as a whole) which paves its way to the question: What is left? I believe the answer comes from ecocriticism and medievalism which requires us, as readers, as thinkers, as people, to look Elsewhere.

The Elsewhere was introduced as a vexing idea during Samantha Purchase’s presentation on “Dream of the Rood” to our Winter 2022 class on Oecologies (taught by Dr. Kenna L. Olsen) which focused on non-human (how I refer to nature / the natural without inciting confusion or ire) technology being refocused and repurposed for human use. In the case of this poem, the focus was on the hybridity between the tree speaker being transformed into a rood. Purchase’s presentation engaged the class in conversation with Matthew Scribner’s article “Tree and Technology: Articulating the Ecological in ‘The Dream of the Rood.'” Scribner located hybridity and the Elsewhere by explicating in detail two sides of a dichotomy and placing hybridity in the middle. Scribner was a source of discussion all term as the class, and I attempted to locate the imagined Elsewhere. While many of us, inside our grey box which could be everything from hills, forests, to cities, now and forgotten, had a hard time applying Scribner’s ideas to other works save for Dream of the Rood, I believe that Purchase’s presentation and Scribner’s idea opened a world of possibility by imagining a third option to past and future that isn’t the present.

The past, contextualized by the idea that time moves forward and whatever is behind is passe or finished, somehow means that what is in front or forward is progress. This implies that the future is full of optimistic faith that everything will get better, and our current ecological problems will be solved with the advent of new technologies. But with our current understanding of climate change and the goal to be carbon neutral to save the earth, the future is looking more anxiously bleak. This can be highlighted by the Science Fiction genre where we reflect on our anxieties and imagine them into the future. Oecologies and medieval literature reflect on the non-human’s ability to feel that it is being used. This can be seen in “Dream of the Rood” where the tree is narrating the technological transformation into a rood. The Exeter Riddles also express a voice but lack of agency that the non-human narrates through being transformed into tools or objects for human use. This suggests that the medieval mind was ecologically concerned with subjects of use and longevity. It would appear, from my understanding, that the medieval mind and the 2022 thinker are tinkering with ideas of the natural or non-human in similar ways, that longevity and sustainability are paramount. But we cannot return to the past and our current future as it is under capitalism and environmental catastrophes, which is no longer an option, therefore where can we go? This is The Elsewhere.

Logan Pollon from the University of Calgary presented their paper “Has Beowulf Been Modern? Unearthing and Examining Nature and Society in Beowulf” at the 2022 meeting of the Medieval Association of the Pacific (Banff, AB) where I think they fused further the ideas of The Elsewhere. Pollon qualifies modern as nature / the non-human is behind with progress ahead and modernism is in isolation in-between. If modern is always in the middle of these two things, it is both always and never. Pollon also qualifies time or history as a deviation from the norm. Everyday life continues along but history is marked by action and violence. Similar to Purchase’s presentation, Pollon recognizes that we can never go back, we can never be pre-modern again. Pollon argues that swords in Beowulf are quasi-objects, understanding that they aren’t all the way natural or non-human but aren’t all the way human either. Notably, the swords as quasi-objects compare the named sword with that of the unnamed one. The history of the named sword is prescribed the history of human actions. Just as the objects in the Exeter Riddles are inscribed value through their potentiality and use of the non- human to the human. The swords, as noted by Pollon, are characterized by the human histories in which they, perhaps unwillingly, participate. This unearths that we see the non-human as tools in our histories and that the non-human can be only valued as they participate in our histories. This is further explained by Pollon as the second sword they present is one without a name, without a history, because it hasn’t participated in the histories and violence of the human. To use this logic and argument, the second sword belongs to the non-human and that nature remains unnamed if it does not serve human prescriptions in the human world. This establishes a value system, one that values the potentiality of the non-human for its use within the human. Both Purchase and Pollon are establishing thoughts of hybridity and the Elsewhere. They both recognize that we can never go back to before our current ecological crisis and that our collective future is an unsustainable option. They understand that the medieval mind is questioning the non-human’s sustainability and involvement in the human. They echo each other’s thoughts that modernity is established as the natural behind with progress in the future and there is something in the middle, be that the medieval, modernity, or the Elsewhere. I believe they are both attempting to fuse medieval literature in 2022 through ecocriticism in creating the Elsewhere as an imagined place where we need to go to resolve our current ecological catastrophes. But while Purchase and Pollon are suggesting a theoretical understanding of the Elsewhere as a solution Dr Wallace Cleaves is offering tangible solutions.

Dr Wallace Cleaves from the University of California, Riverside, presented “Human-Nature: Stewardship and Kynde Relationality Between the Medieval Wilderness and the Indigenous Environment” as a plenary address at the Medieval Association of the Pacific conference. Cleaves focused on the word “kynde” as Chaucer uses it in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He notes that it functions to mark important junctures within the text, but it also functions to understand nature or the non-human as inherent. Cleaves understands the value systems as Arthur’s Court representing the Christian system with capitalism while being exploitative to the non-human, and the Green Knight embodies the non-human but more importantly the stewardship of that environment. Cleaves defines the non-human as inherent and that continuity is a fact of nature/non-human. They compare this to the idea that because Arthur’s court is descended from the fall of Troy, the court is already inherently or naturally doomed. Stretching the argument further, if our current social, and societal structure is descended from Arthur then we are too destined for doom. This implies that the capitalistic endeavours and exploitation of the earth as already outlined are representative of Arthur’s court and are not only unsustainable but also what is leading us, as descendants, to ruin. But Cleaves does offer a solution, which is essentially what I am arguing as the Elsewhere, in the form of Indigenous stewardship of the environment. Cleaves compares Indigenous stewardship to the hunting scenes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by arguing that there is an inherent push and pull, give, and take, between the stewards of the environment and the environment itself. That the hunting outside of Arthur’s Court, is an act of balance, to take a little but respect that the environment needs time to rejuvenate. Cleaves argues for the personhood of all things which includes the natural or non-human. The value system that I would classify as the Elsewhere solution is Cleaves’ understanding of Indigenous stewardship. Cleaves explains that the reason there are so many fires in Los Angeles is that the human has strayed away from stewardship of the environment and that controlled burns that were prevalent before contact aren’t acceptable under the current value system. He also notes that Indigenous ways of knowing protected the forests by participating with its natural cycles such as when oak trees drop their seeds. Cleaves represents the Elsewhere as a solution, as a value system and one that has worked before and one that must be brought immediately into the now.

Purchase and Pollon present hybridity and a theory of the Elsewhere and therefore an ecocritical understanding and solution. Cleaves understands medieval oecologies as stewardship of the environment while recognizing the value systems that led to our current ecological disasters. While the Elsewhere is a theoretical imagined place, it also represents the solution. We can neither go back as Purchase points out, nor become pre-modern as Pollon states, but we cannot continue into a future where climate change and environmental catastrophes continue because there simply won’t be a place for humanity inside it. Cleaves understands that there is an immediate, tangible, solution that brings the Elsewhere out of the imagined and into the now through Indigenous stewardship of the environment.

Works Cited

Cleaves, Wallace. “Human-Nature: Stewardship and Kynde Relationality Between the Medieval Wilderness and the Indigenous Environment”. Medieval Association of the Pacific, April 22nd , 2022, Banff, AB.

Purchase, Samantha. “Ecologies and The Dream of the Rood.” Presentation to English 4410: Oecologies. Winter 2022.

Pollon, Logan. “Has Beowulf Been Modern? Unearthing and Examining Nature and Society in Beowulf”. Medieval Association of the Pacific, April 22nd , 2022, Banff, AB.

Scribner, Matthew. “Tree and Technology: Articulating the Ecological in ‘The Dream of the Rood’”. ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 23.2 (Spring 2016), pp. 240-258, Accessed 2022-04-25.

Tweets and Twerps for Learning: “Twitter Humour for Education.” By Kenna L. Olsen and Samantha Purchase


Tweets and Twerps for Learning

Kenna L. Olsen

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues well into the Fall 2020 semester, many of us are experiencing our lives — our work, our play, our socialising, our reading, our watching — virtually. Several of us are teaching and learning virtually, and the internet and our inboxes abound with tips for teaching, debates on “synchronous” versus “asynchronous,” and tips for managing virtual breakout rooms. Educators share thoughts with one another on how to maximise student engagement while trying to not feel as though they are talking heads on a Google Meet, while students try to connect with their colleagues through a monitor.

The concept of connection is an important one for teaching and learning. Students must feel connected to the material, and while individual connection is a necessary goal, a connection via community is crucial. When students can discuss, for instance, the nuance between the tenets of guilt or shame in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with one another, their professor, and other scholars, they gain various perspectives that encourage their own critical queries and arguments.

But how does one find, and sincerely engage with various views and voices, when our modes of connection are now necessarily mediated via individual experiences and machines? Before the pandemic, I experimented with using Twitter in and out of my classes, both to support teaching and learning of course material, but also to encourage conversation. I am aware that students engage and learn medieval texts on my course syllabi via (mostly) my own perspectives, and I wanted to encourage my students to engage with my colleagues, beyond reading polished, researched, work available in peer reviewed journals and books. I started asking students to find academic conversations on medieval topics and texts on Twitter. I found ways of incorporating Twitter to support learning medieval texts. And students became (for the most part!) excited. Excited learning is, I’m convinced, successful learning.

Below, you’ll find Samantha Purchase’s (former honours student, and current Research Assistant extraordinaire) thoughts on the benefits of using Twitter for learning. Samantha has incorporated Twitter into much of her university learning, and she offers some provoking thoughts on how such modes of “modern” culture can enhance our experience of textualies and critical engagement.

Twitter Humour for Education

by Samantha Purchase

Twitter has become a staple of my academic process. Whenever I am interested in something, whether it be medieval or contemporary American Literature, I am almost guaranteed to find someone else engaging with a given text on Twitter, usually with humour. For my own English Honours thesis, I used this tweet as an essential provocation for my project, using it to situate my thoughts and theories on Game of Thrones and memorialization:

Although facetious, this Tweet posits an interesting connection between the products we consume as entertainment and how historical periods are remembered in the collective conscious. Its humour provides an accessible way into having an in-depth conversation about the nuances of texts, without the typical paywalls or inaccessibility that is associated with academia. Some of the greatest academic minds are usually accessible via Twitter, allowing conversations about texts, articles, news and crucially, current events to be discussed more freely and with far more humour then one finds in traditional scholarship. It can also offer an introductory glimpse into the many fun things about medieval studies, such as the very strange and usually incredibly humorous art: 

Since I follow a plethora of medieval scholars, there is usually an abundance of Tweets about medieval texts utilizing whatever meme format is popular at the time. For instance, last fall there was a popular trend in listing memes, where someone writes a comparison between two things who seem dissimilar for comedic value. Medieval Twitter went wild for this format, of which this is my personal favourite:

What memes like this do is to encourage discussion about texts—some of which are considered archaic, inaccessible, like medieval texts—in a comprehensive and obtainable way in which students, scholars and non-academics alike can enjoy. Someone who is not familiar with Grendel or Beowulf could be interested in finding out more about it after viewing a Tweet like this. For myself, the Tweet’s conclusion about Santa Claus and Grendel provoked a beguiling connection to environment in the text that I had never considered before. 

​Twitter meme accounts also encourage creativity; one can follow Margery Kempe (@RealMargery), and Chaucer (@LeVostreGC) who both type in Middle English, often times commenting on current events or reciting song lyrics.  I am always happy to see either one of those two on my timeline, as it keeps my Middle English translation skills sharp and is terrifically funny: 

Twitter has the potential to become the great equalizer for academia, allowing individuals to become immersed in texts and culture beyond papers and journals. Dr. Kenna Olsen’s Twitter projects for her classes gesture to this point; to date she has had students tweet both King Horn and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Students had fun using Twitter and internet language to illustrate their points, while also learning to contextualize texts in a concise and nuanced manner. When I tweeted King Horn in 2018, I learned a great deal about writing concisely, a skill set that is fundamental in university writing and beyond. Projects like these encourage students to approach texts in new and immersive ways, emboldening creativity and generating conversation, while also developing skills that are indispensableto student’s futures, no matter what field they choose. 

As we sit on the other side of the socially distant reality, Twitter has grown in its urgency. Amongst all the “doom-scrolling” I do on a daily basis, I am also happy to see humour being used as a way into learning. While medieval studies continues to work through both the realities of living through a pandemic as well as shedding the racist and outdated terminology that date the field, Twitter continues to be the cutting edge source for comedic—and crucially, informative—commentary.

Since everyone is at home, Twitter has become the place to go if one is seeking deeper and meaningful information on current events; current events that also directly impact the future and sustainability medieval studies. The ongoing struggle against the co-option of medieval runes and symbols by white supremacists has reached a new fervour in light of the protests surrounding George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths (among countless others) worldwide. Counter-protestors have been spotted wearing medieval inspired armour, with flags emblazoned with symbols found on medieval manuscripts. Medievalists have been actively refuting many white supremacist’s misappropriation of these symbols in real time, using Twitter as a tool for political activism and critical engagement. 

As the social internet continues to impact daily lives, so too will it impact education. Twitter is a tool that can be used to engage with texts in new and exciting ways, while also sharpening communicative and writing skills. It can also act as a tool against misappropriation that threatens to darken the field. Through humour, students can find medieval texts more accessible, exciting and ultimately, sustainable. Meme culture becomes a conduit for students and academics alike to share their thoughts in a creatively challenging and concise way, while also giving the benefit of a good laugh.

Teaching and Learning via Research Dissemination: “Bridging Disciplines: ‘Medieval and Early Modern Miscere’ from an Undergraduate Student’s Perspective.” By Kenna L. Olsen and Tia Christoffersen


Medieval and Early Modern Miscere:

Teaching and Learning via Research Dissemination

Kenna L. Olsen

A day before the first Medieval and Early Modern Miscere: disrupting disciplines; problematising periodisation of this semester, it feels poignant and necessary to share a student’s thoughts on the different ways we learn at Mount Royal University, in our community, and beyond. Below, you’ll find Tia’s thoughts on the speaker series, the Medieval and Early Modern Miscere, that I’ve been privileged to organize over the last four years. This year, my formidable co-organiser is Dr. David Clemis (@DavidClemis), Early Modern historian extraordinaire (shout out to Dr. Emily Hutchison, @emilyjhutchsion, who has helped in the past!).

The Miscere is a speaker series that began with the goal of supporting inclusivity of knowledge between students and scholars of the early periods in the Arts and Humanities. It supports dissemination of new knowledge and research, and promotes opportunities for creative and critical connections for students and scholars alike. We invite local, national, and international scholars to teach in our classes, and to present their current research and scholarship via public talks.**

Tia’s blog underscores the importance of knowledge sharing, and the importance of creating teaching and learning opportunities beyond our regularly scheduled classroom, by reflecting on two talks from the Fall semester: one that featured Dr. Karim Dharamsi who spoke on Khaldun’s The Muqaddimah, and another that featured Dr. Kenneth F. Duggan, who spoke on 13th century crime in England.

Tia argues that the Miscere offers an important learning opportunity for students. As a professor, I echo Tia’s articulations of the importance of interdisciplinarity in my own work. Research, scholarship, and their dissemination is vital for university learning and teaching. Doing so cultivates creative and critical discourse, and provides important access to knowledge in multiple forms.

**Thank you to the Faculty of Arts Endeavour fund, which generously supports the Medieval and Early Modern Miscere.

Bridging Disciplines: ‘Medieval and Early Modern Miscere’ from an Undergraduate Student’s Perspective

by Tia Christoffersen

Having just completed my Bachelor of Arts degree, the thoughtful reflection on my experience as an undergraduate student has inevitably begun. I have been ruminating on the knowledge I acquired over the years and with that, everything that ostensibly shapes one’s academic experience, such as the structure of my degree, course requirements, and opportunities on campus. Because, like most students, my areas of interest came into clearer focus as I progressed in my degree, I have been paying particular attention to my last couple of years as an English major. I knew in my second year that I was interested in medieval literature so, going forward, I enrolled in as many courses relating to the subject as possible. When I reached my third and fourth years, I was both more eager and more equipped to engage with higher levels of academic material and as a result, entered into these courses with a critical and ambitious mindset. I was determined to absorb a copious amount of new material for my own aims and that I might be able to intersect with what I was learning elsewhere.

Some people may argue that medieval literature, and the study of the medieval period as a whole, is a static field that is not fruitful for interconnection with other disciplines. This notion is simply not true. What I learned in the many medieval literature courses I took was applicable to other English classes as well as to countless other branches of knowledge I encountered in my schooling, such as in general education courses and electives. For instance, how women’s roles in literary culture shifted throughout the medieval period in England supported my understanding of women’s literary production in the early modern period; analyzing themes of environmental sustainability in texts such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight allowed me to deploy my ecocritical understandings in a film theory course; and my knowledge of medieval materiality, including the construction of medieval manuscripts, was incredibly useful in an early art history course. By weaving together different courses’ aims in this way, I was able to deepen my comprehension of a variety of materials and effectively broaden my knowledge.

Interdisciplinarity is usually, in my experience, something reserved for discussion among faculty members and featured at academic conferences, but I want to approach it from the perspective of an undergraduate student. Of course, the topic of interdisciplinarity applies to undergraduate students for a number of reasons; in addition to bolstering students’ learning as I’ve just described, it can apply to research projects and future programs of study. After all, isn’t interdisciplinary learning one reason why universities implement general education requirements?

Due to the organization of undergraduate degrees and the less-than-joyful reality of scheduling, it can often be difficult for students to choose classes that inspire them and allow them to engage in branches of study that intersect with their primary academic interests. This constraint is why I avidly support accessible opportunities for students to explore the expertise available in other areas of study, which is offered through the Medieval and Early Modern Miscere speaker series, organized this year by Dr. David Clemis and Dr. Kenna Olsen. Through the series, scholars are invited to deliver public lectures at Mount Royal University. Medieval and Early Modern Miscere offers a myriad of advantages, including an intellectually stimulating environment for faculty, students, and university alumni to gather and learn, but most pertinent is the engagement with other disciplines that can be attained through the series.

The first lecture in this year’s series, delivered by Dr. Karim Dharamsi, was called “The End of Philosophy: Ibn-Khaldun’s Fourteenth Century Prolegomena to a Science of History and Social Cohesion.” Dharamsi prefaced his lecture by asking who was familiar with or had heard of Khaldun; several professors raised their hands while most students, including myself, did not. He went on to contextualize Khaldun’s many scholarly contributions, stating that Khaldun, who rejected that he was a philosopher, was the first in Arabic tradition to ask questions of historiography, among other original inquiries.

Dharamsi elucidated aspects of Khaldun’s The Muqaddimah, particularly the concept of ‘asabiyya and its significance to the text and Khaldun’s positions. Through a presentational organization that corresponded directly to the natural progression of social cohesion as argued by Khaldun, Dharamsi effectively conveyed Khaldun’s theoretical arguments. Dharamsi explicated ‘asabiyya as referring to the solidarity of a group that shares a common opinion and, according to Khaldun, has a finite life span of three to five generations. Khaldun posits that urbanization inevitably results in the collapse and decay of civilizations, evident both in actual and mythological ruins. In discussing this notion, Dharamsi referred to Khaldun’s concept as “a cycle of decline.”

In part, Dharamsi articulated the relevance of Khaldun to present day understandings of philosophy, metaphysics, and theories of social cohesion. He suggested that present-day white nationalism is a form of ‘asabiyya, as these groups are brought together by a common “goal,” articulating that ‘asabiyya demarcates a social solidarity, not necessarily a moral one.

After this lecture, I was struck by the thematic connections I noticed to my studies of medieval literature. The cyclical decay of civilizations that Khaldun explores is fascinatingly applicable to discussions we had in Dr. Olsen’s “Pluriverse: Medieval Immersive Spaces — Textual Minds, Lexis of Landscapes” course ; the Early English poem The Ruin engages with similar ideas of inevitable societal decay, and this conceptual overlap deepened my understanding of both Dharamsi’s lecture and the text I had previously studied.

Medieval and Early Modern Miscere’s second lecture this year was delivered by Dr. Kenneth F. Duggan, titled “Peasants and Policing in the Middle Ages: How Villages Dealt with Crime in Thirteenth-Century England.” Duggan began his lecture with an anecdote about a thief who was ordered to be hanged and, on the way to the gallows, escaped officials because he was led through a churchyard where he was able to claim sanctuary and then go free. This story served as a captivating point of entry and effectively situated the rest of the lecture.

Duggan traced and problematized systems of law and order in thirteenth century England, drawing on a variety of records and statistics to demonstrate the development of and reactions to these systems within communities. He negotiated the use of the frankpledge system and suggested another system of apprehending criminals was utilized, as well as investigated the positions of marginalized people in these systems, which was particularly interesting.

In his consideration of the frankpledge system, Duggan articulated its cruciality to thirteenth century law and order; he then delineated its foundation on tithing groups, amercements, and reliance on community self-policing. In the frankpledge systems, tithing groups usually consisted of ten men who were obligated to maintain order by apprehending criminals within their tithing group or be financially penalized. However, Duggan noted that this system did not function flawlessly for peacekeeping. Tithing groups were willing to let criminals flee, sometimes on account of personal loyalty and significantly, the participants in this system were minority in number, as many people were excluded, such as lepers, women, knights, disabled people, and clerics.

Duggan then discussed a shift in policing towards the hue and cry system, in which a royal agent must be notified of all unnatural deaths and all suspected criminals must be pursued and apprehended by the community. This system was developed once justices realized that coroners’ records naturally provided a system of checks and balances and it asserted that all people must respond when a hue and cry was raised. Although people still manipulated this system of justice, Duggan argued, it led to an increase in amercements due to its inclusion of more people, especially women.

Having taken very few history courses in my degree, this lecture presented an opportunity to engage with a history of law and order in medieval England that I would not have otherwise received. By attending the Medieval and Early Modern Miscere speaker series, I was able to learn from the knowledge held by scholars in disciplines different than my own and contemplate their lectures alongside the knowledge I have acquired in my studies. Medieval and Early Modern Miscere is an excellent example of how interdisciplinarity can be offered to undergraduate students in an accessible format.



Pluriverse: Teaching Medieval Literature in an Immersion Studio — two students’ perspectives: guest posts by Samantha Purchase and Tia Christoffersen

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Teaching Medieval Literature in an Immersion Studio

Kenna L. Olsen

As the Fall semester wanes, it’s time to consider how and what I’ve been learning about teaching. This term, I was fortunate to be able to truly experiment with my pedagogy, via MRU’s Immersion Studio. I was granted the opportunity to teach my fourth year seminar, “Select Topics in Medieval Literature,” in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre’s Immersion Studio — a 360 degree “grey box” that allows for digital immersion. The course I developed, “Pluriverse: Medieval Immersive Spaces — Textual Minds, Lexis of Landscapes,” reads a variety of Old and Middle English literatures against digital surrogates of geographical and temporal environments. The seminar proposes a ”pluriverse” that intends to promote medieval literary understanding and inspire understanding of historical difference.

I have much to say about this course – I’ve learned a lot about myself as a teacher, and about the challenges of temporal and geographical distance that exists for students and scholars of medieval studies. But more significantly, students have offered some important reflections and reactions to their learning in the Immersion Studio, and so it’s pressing to share these first. Here, individual (yes, double!) guest posts by Tia Christoffersen and Samantha Purchase (I’m fortunate enough to count Tia and Samantha as my RAs and Honours students) articulate how digital immersion has impacted and shaped their learning. Samantha’s blog post intriguingly articulates how the Immersion Studio alleviates some accessibility issues inherent for some learners, and she argues that studying medieval literatures in the Immersion Studio might support sustainability of the discipline. Tia’s blog post  is a thoughtful explication of reading Early English poetry while experiencing digital immersion.

Here are Tia’s and Samantha’s contributions. I’m very happy indeed to include them amongst the Emerging Medievalisms blog:

A Student’s Reflection on Immersion Studio Learning

by Samantha Purchase

When Mount Royal University opened the doors to their new and improved library, the Riddell Library and Learning Centre, in 2017, I was in my third year of university and had gotten quite used to ‘the way things are.’ ‘The ways things are’ is one argument I have become accustomed to hearing throughout my academic career; it is often the justification for following the status quo, having students do the same kind of assignments and keeping the same learning objectives year after year. As someone who has struggled with ADD for most of my life, I was used to reigning in my abstract thinking and remoulding it to fit contemporary methods of education. I was used to making my learning adapt to the teacher, institution and discipline I was studying. This was my educational experience for most of my life.

Although I have taken seven courses with Dr. Kenna Olsen, and I knew her to be an exciting and engaging scholar whose enthusiasm was infectious enough to change lives (I mean, I call myself a medievalist thanks to her), I had to admit my skepticism when she first told me of the Immersion Studio. A black box room, capable of projecting anything on its walls, for a fully immersive experience. It sounds cool, I’ll give it that. I could see its relevance for a plethora of other programs: nursing, aviation, geology, archelogy, etc. It seemed like a stretch for English studies though. Part of what I like about reading is the time spent in my own mind; imaging, inventing and discovering the text through my point of view. I didn’t really see how someone else’s images projected on the walls of a room could improve my own experience with a text.

Needless to say, I was deeply wrong.

Not only has the Immersion Studio changed my relationship to literature, it has changed my relationship to learning. Technology is often considered a bit of a hindrance on education, but when confronted with the real value technology like this can have in sustaining the relevancy of the humanities, it is my hope that more teachers will utilize Immersion spaces in their syllabus.

My first experience in the room was a demonstration done with the librarian technician, Matt Laidlow, who showed us what it could do. I was so impressed with the capability, the choices that we had with medium—the lights, pictures, sounds and videos could all do whatever you wanted them to. We could have on image stretched across all four walls, effectively utilizing a 360 effect; we can mirror images on alternating walls; we can play videos on all four walls, etc. When Dr. Olsen asked me to participate in a research project exploring the Immersion Studio for the performance of texts, I agreed immediately.

I spent a few months with a small team finding images that depicted or evoked certain themes and moods from the texts Dr. Olsen chose. If I wanted to query loneliness, like the speaker in The Wanderer feels, I could put some images of desolate landscapes, juxtaposed with images of a crowded bus. These are two very different images, but capable of provoking strong emotion. I could find images of real-world inspirations for texts we read, like images of the Wirral found in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or Hadrian’s Wall for The Ruin. I could pair these images with evocative soundscapes: birds chirping, wilderness sounds, people talking in whispers, screams—it was all there. The only limit is my own imagination.

When I finally was able to see a classroom interact with texts in the Immersion Studio I realized how far reaching the implication of a space like the Immersion Studio can be on scholarship and the very sustainability of English and the humanities. When reading a text, there is a level of distance; a teacher can gesture to certain issues in the text, and a class can discuss their own perceptions and interpretations. In a room like the Immersion Studio however, one can prompt discussion through the environment itself. With medieval literature, many students (like myself) have never had a chance to visit the locations where these stories take place, and this can be a disadvantage for textual comprehension and analysis when picturing a text. When reading The Ruin for instance, I have always felt a strong pull to the narrator’s description of a wall “smashed by fate” and although Dr. Olsen always mentions that the narrator could be speaking about a place like Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, I had never been there so I could never visualize it clearly. Seeing a picture on my computer provides some context, sure. But having the image projected life-sized and 360-degree capability truly engrosses me in a way I’ve never experienced. As someone who is as prone to distraction as myself, I have never lost focus in the Immersion Studio. My level of concentration is sustained precisely because I am absorbed in the material with more than one sense.

This fall, I am enrolled in a class with Dr. Olsen that takes place entirely in the Immersion Studio. I have been lucky enough to work with Tia Christoffersen on finding the images and soundscapes to support analysis of several medieval texts in this class. So far we have played with historical depictions of Judith in art, poignant ocean scenes for The Seafarer, and used battle stills from Game of Thrones to evoke The Battle of Maldon. The feedback from the class has been positive, and witnessing the provocation of my peers when confronted with these varying wraps has been one of the highlights of my scholarly career. It has been instrumental in helping me solidify my own research for my honours thesis, which is a critique of medievalisms present in Game of Thrones. After exploring wraps with my class, and presenting my general outline of my project, the feedback and conversation the Studio generated helped me discover new interests that will propel my project to bigger and brighter places.

It is my hope that as the humanities continues to grow that we find new and innovative ways to explore literature. Spaces like the Immersion Studio are beneficial to students and faculty in their endless capabilities and functionality. The future of English is sustainable if we engage with the emerging technologies available in our universities and allow for new interpretations of critical analysis—while also supporting those of us who need the extra resources and supports.

Reading in Immersion:

A Reflection on Immersive Experiences and Early English Poetry

by Tia Christoffersen

Does your immediate environment affect the way you read any given text? Does it make a difference if you read William Wordsworth while reclining on a riverbank versus inside your living room in the middle of a Calgarian winter? Do your surroundings affect what you’re reading if the material doesn’t have such a direct environmental association? These are questions I hadn’t given much thought prior to my experience of reading medieval literature with immersive technology. I am currently in the final semester of my undergraduate English degree, so I have done my fair share of reading. Whether it was Flannery O’Connor or a journal article on Beowulf, I probably read material in the quietest, calmest space I could find. Oftentimes this space was my bedroom with the light of a single lamp, but it also ended up being various bustling pockets across campus between classes. Most students would likely agree that you need to concentrate when reading medieval literature. So, choosing where to read usually just means finding a place that won’t distract you from trying to remember what ‘eek’ means. A silent space might be the best environment for focusing, but not the most stimulating. What if you could transport yourself to any place you could imagine, both visually and aurally, when reading? Would you feel more connected to the text?

Along with Samantha Purchase, I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Olsen to prepare files for her English 4410 Pluriverse: Medieval Immersive Spaces – Textual Minds, Lexis of Landscapes course in the Riddell Library and Learning Centre’s Immersion Studio. The studio utilizes innovative technology to offer an immersive, 360° experience. For this course, we were tasked with choosing sound files and images to be turned into immersive “wraps” by the RLLC’s media designer. The class I wish to address in this post focused on the Early English poems The Ruin and The Seafarer and was thematically concerned with medieval and post-medieval worlds, as well as world-building.

Wraps for The Ruin were fairly straightforward; we used a series of images of ruins. We began with pictures of Hadrian’s Wall accompanied by sounds of howling winds, then transitioned to a photo of the Roman Baths with 21stcentury tourists milling about, phones in hand, paired with sounds of waterfalls. Finally, we ended with images of less recognizable but more damaged looking ruins with sounds of battle: shouting men and clashing swords. The goal was to visually and sonically depict themes that emerged chronologically in The Ruin: quiet rumination, a yearning for and imagining of pleasure, and the lamentation of war and destruction. As well, both Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman Baths have been suggested to be the actual subjects of the poem, so they were intriguing visuals from an “authenticity” perspective.

We were all struck by the evocative power of this series of wraps and how the speaker’s emotions seemed more palpable in the immersive environment. Nostalgia emerged as a key theme among the students, particularly emphasized by the images of Hadrian’s Wall and the Roman Baths. This notion of sentimental reflection was sharply juxtaposed by the sounds of battle and their distinctly mournful connotations. However, both of these emotional motifs can be categorized within a contemplation of the past being performed by the speaker of The Ruin. In class, we were performing this same contemplation of the past, and so were the tourists in the image of the Baths. Being immersed in these various environments solidified how our engagement with this poem perpetuates a temporal plurality. Reading early medieval literature is just one of many ways we engage with the past and breach the borders of periodization.

The Seafarer wraps consisted of images of the sea, of course, but we were able to be creative with their colouring, lighting, and tones. We began with a bright, sunny picture of the coast against a clear blue sky, then moved to a grey, cloudy image of a flock of birds flying above violent waves crashing against a rocky seaside. Next came a sunless, foggy beach packed with a crowd of silhouetted figures and an oddly placed surfboard in the foreground, followed by a dark image in the middle of the ocean, lit only by the full moon. The presence of life in these wraps was another point of intrigue, as living creatures only appeared in ominous ways.

These immersive atmospheres successfully evoked the themes of isolation that are so ubiquitous in The Seafarer. Students reacted most strongly to the eerie beach and the lonely ocean, with the class divided in opinion about which environment felt more isolating. Some said that the beach felt more sinister, as it looked like they were surrounded by people yet felt entirely alone. Others stated that the ocean wrap made them feel as though they were really in the frigid water, without another soul in sight. These emotional responses were discernible to me through somatic responses—facial expressions and gestures—to the wraps in conjunction with Dr. Olsen’s reading of the poem. When someone felt a particular wrap didn’t coordinate with a section of the poem that was being read to them, their mannerisms reflected discomfort and tension. Other times, when someone felt the wrap resonated with the poem, they reflected thoughtfulness and understanding.

After class, I was fascinated by the collective and individual responses to being immersed in various environments while hearing Early English poetry. I turned to the course’s Twitter hashtag to ask: “When we read the Early English poems The Ruin and The Seafarer in the Immersion Studio, did the wraps make you feel more connected to the speakers and themes than when reading the poems without the immersive experience?” The response was a resounding “heck yes!” which led me to wonder, why? Why did sensory provocation lead to a deeper textual understanding?

At first, I thought that students were responding to a distinction between what appeared as “medieval” environments versus “modern” ones. Perhaps the wrap with the phone-wielding tourists was especially evocative because it appeared to juxtapose time periods. Maybe some people resonated more with the moonlit ocean wrap because it was completely removed from time and lacked any clues to contemporary life, as opposed to the ominous 21st century beach. However, upon further reflection, it became clear that the responses were not just about what made sense visually for the time period we were studying. Reactions stemmed from being immersed in environments that were thematically in sync with the group’s thoughts and feelings about the texts. This immersive approach to engaging with Early English poetry further cemented in me the idea that human experience transcends spaciotemporal boundaries.

Emerging Medievalisms: Twitter as Medieval Media. Twitter in the Classroom: a student’s perspective – a guest post by Tia Christoffersen

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Emerging Medievalisms: Twitter as Medieval Media 

Kenna L. Olsen

It is that time of year – we’ve started a new semester at my institution. Faculty have met their classes, students have organized their schedules, and all have stood in a plethora of queues required for coffee and books. It’s a thoughtful time of year, as several faculty wish each other and students “Happy New Year,” all the while imagining how this time, absolutely this term, their course syllabi will be smooth, streamlined, and delightfully encouraging of learning.

As I’ve written about before, this website, Emerging Medievalisms: Method, Media, Manuscript, enables me to play with the concept of emergence in the classroom and for medieval studies. What this means, is that I’ve spent much of the last couple of years thinking about pedagogy and different teaching methodologies. The first blog post focussed on sound, within Medieval English texts, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, within the classroom, in forms of dialogue and silence, and without the classroom, especially in the form of podcasts. This blog post focuses on social media for undergraduate learning — specifically Twitter, and Medieval English literary studies. 

I recently began thinking about the sustainability of medieval studies, and wondering about how various forms of media might encourage sustainability for the discipline, but also in the classroom more generally. During this time, I introduced Twitter to my senior-level seminar students. My thinking was that students, if introduced to “Academic Twitter,” specifically #medievaltwitter, students might be encouraged by the often dynamic conversations amongst and between various medievalists across the world. I’m sensitive to the fact that I am the only medievalist in my department, and only one of a small handful at my institution. By introducing students to #medievaltwitter, I felt I might expose them to medievalists of different training, background, interests, research methodologies, and more. I also felt that Twitter in the classroom might be a way to bolster accessibility for my classroom — what if some students, who might usually feel reticent to discuss their thoughts in the classroom, felt comfortable engaging via the medium of Twitter?

This experiment was an enormous success. We decided on a class hashtag (#ecomru), and some students would post during class, and others outside of class. Often the posts were specific to course material and discussions, and other times they were relaxed, comical, or even confusing. But what became clear was that the class community grew beyond the specific walls and times of the class itself. Students also tagged internationally recognized scholars, and received feedback on their term projects, building those conversations into their own learning. I swore I’d never go back.

Since then, I’ve continued to invite students to use Twitter in my classes, and I’ve even insisted that they use it for specific projects. I’ve had courses with fun hashtags: #meadhall_MRU, and #medievalschoolbus. This term’s classes have chosen #meadlounge_MRU and #mrusondryfolk. In #meadhall_MRU, students, all of us inspired by Elaine Treharne’s Beowulf in 100 Tweets, were invited to Tweet the entirety of King Horn. What several students produced — in general, they were asked to reduce 25 lines of poetry to a 240 character Tweet — was sophisticated explication and thoughtful analysis that my more “traditional” close reading assignments didn’t always generate.

I haven’t yet had a student ask me to stop with the Twitter — I’ve only heard positive, encouraging feedback. Because we are at the beginning of term, and many of us are thinking about teaching and learning, our pedagogies and methodologies, I asked a student, Tia Christoffersen, incredible BA Honours English student (and an ace person, generally!), to reflect on Twitter in the medieval classroom and to offer her perspective on its use in the undergraduate classroom.

Here is Tia’s contribution. I’m absolutely delighted to include it amongst the Emerging Medievalisms blog:

Twitter in the Classroom: A Student’s Perspective

by Tia Christoffersen

The benefits and detriments of social media are hotly debated. As our society continues to shift into a more digital landscape, a sort of stigma has surrounded the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These platforms are often blamed for the “detachment” of younger generations. Most of us acknowledge that social media doesn’t just exist to circulate videos of dogs, pictures of food, and memes (although I am a steadfast supporter of all those things) because it also maintains connections with people who live in other countries, keeps people up to date with current events, and promotes businesses. However, one little-mentioned use of social media is for education, which I wasn’t aware of until I was a student of Dr. Kenna Olsen. In my experience at Mount Royal University, most professors are quick to admonish cell phone use in the classroom, meaning social media as part of the course would be out of the question. As a book-obsessed English major, I’ll admit I was skeptical of how using Twitter could enhance my understanding of medieval literature, but I was quickly converted.

In three of the classes I took with Dr. Olsen, she instructed us to use Twitter as an additional source of engagement with the course readings and themes. Both during and outside of class time, my classmates and I shared our ideas about lectures, group presentations, and scholarly articles. The platform also afforded us the opportunity to add levity to the course with clever uses of gifs and the creation of memes with medieval imagery. All of these unique forms of interaction increased the levels of student engagement. Our conversations were filtered through a hashtag made up by the class (my favourite was #medievalschoolbus) to help keep track of one another’s tweets.

This type of discussion encouraged me to express my thoughts and respond to my classmates’ ideas to a further extent than solely classroom-based discussions. I have been in classes where professors try to foster this type of continued discussion through the use of online message boards, but I found Twitter to be much more dynamic. Not only is the platform inherently social, but it also allowed us to incorporate videos, images, and links to articles. We were also introduced to the possibility of engaging with academics via Twitter; some of my classmates even reached out to a scholar whose work we studied and received a response. Using Twitter in this way was exciting and connective, deepened my relationships with my classmates, and enhanced our in-class discussions.

In Early Medieval Literature, Dr. Olsen assigned the same sort of Twitter-based exercise, but we were given another assignment in addition. As a class, we were going to translate King Horn, an early Middle English romance, to modern English entirely through tweets. I was both excited and daunted by the task at hand; using social media for such an ambitious project felt so new to me and logistically, it seemed impossible to capture a 1546-line Middle English text on Twitter.

With only two 240-character tweets to capture the essence of fifty lines, this assignment proved to be a real craft. After studying my assigned lines and determining whether my tweet would be written in poetry or prose (I think I landed somewhere in the proem vicinity), I had to closely re-read the passage to decide which features were most pertinent to include in my translation and what I thought most deserved emphasis. Writing the tweet and staying within the character limit was a unique challenge; while I managed to whittle down the descriptions and dialogue, I had to use emojis as stand-ins for some words that couldn’t fit. For instance, I used a crown emoji to mean ‘king.’ I also used a gif to provide visual emphasis for an aspect of my tweet I thought seemed too subtle. While the flourishes of social media, like emojis and gifs, aren’t necessary for translating a text, they helped to capture the nuances in King Horn in an entertaining way. Who wouldn’t want to make a connection between Dwight from The Office and the central character of a thirteenth century romance?

By the end of the semester, #kinghornmru had nearly 60 tweets, which we then read chronologically (and you can too!). Collectively re-telling King Horn via Twitter was one of the most invigorating projects I have ever completed in my time as an undergraduate student. I was encouraged to interact with a text in a manner that I have never before encountered. I relished the opportunity to take a creative approach to an English literature course, and to see how my classmates and Dr. Olsen each used different techniques for their tweets. This assignment was engaging, challenging, and fun, and I hope more professors across a variety of disciplines embrace the instructional possibilities of social media in their classes.