Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Please, ma'am: May I have some more?

Today is my last teaching day before spring break. And while most of my classes this week have been replaced by conferences for upcoming papers, I did have one to get through: Western Civilization. A 100-level class, and today we were discussing El Cid. And let me tell you, I was dreading it. This is a really fun story, and I'd been selling it to them for a couple of weeks: Battles! Honor! Valor! Betrayal! Christians and Muslims! But walking into class today, I knew I had several things working against me:
  • These are not history majors. Most of them are taking this class as a General Education requirement, so they're only here because they have to be.
  • A medieval epic may be exciting to a medieval historian, but it's not everybody's cup of tea.
  • It's the last class before spring break.
So, you will appreciate how pleasantly surprised I was that the 60% or so of the class who actually participated did so with some real enthusiasm. But even more than that, there was this conversation after class:

"Yes, Susie? Did you have a question?"
"Well, it's kind of off-topic..."
"I love off-topic questions. Shoot."
"Well... I really liked this book! I read it all in one night. Like, I had to do laundry, and I was really mad because I had to put the book down! And so... I was wondering... Are there other books like this that you can recommend?"

That's right: My undergraduate, non-major, taking-this-required-course student just asked me for more medieval literature. Because it was so awesome.


heu mihi said...


What did you recommend?

Comradde PhysioProffe said...


Dr. Koshary said...

That is awesome! I echo Heu Mihi's question.

I'm assuming, by the way, that you had them read El Cid in English translation. I had a butt-kicking semester of college in which we read Cantar del mio Cid in the original, and there was no effing way I could have hacked my way through that stuff in a single night. I don't think I even finished the reading in a week, actually. But I'm getting off-topic myself, now. :)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

W00t, indeed! Dr. K, yes, it was in English. And Heu, I sent her a short list (each with a brief description, so she could pick the ones most likely to *keep* her enthusiastic): Decameron, Song of Roland, Lais of Marie de France, Arthurian tales of Chr├ętien de Troyes, and Beowulf (with a note that it was "sort of a Lord of the Rings vibe" and a recommendation that she might try a prose translation if the verse was too hard to get through, though I loved the verse myself).

Susan said...

And maybe she will change majors!

JaneB said...

Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney is fabulous!

Bardiac said...

Neat! And great suggestions, too! Maybe add Gawain?