When I started teaching in the spring of 2020 I, like so many other instructors, had no idea that by the end of the sixth week of the semester we would be in lockdown and unable to meet our students face-to-face. I teach a Shakespeare course in the English Language and Literature Department at Bilkent University in Turkey that focuses on the playwright’s tragedies, comedies, and histories.
The plethora of Shakespeare performances currently being made available online are an incredible resource to anyone who teaches early modern drama as they offer a unique opportunity to have discussions with students about the different levels of audience participation in Shakespeare’s time and our own.
The state of quarantine caused by the novel coronavirus has necessitated the adaptation of education to an eminently technological world.1 The pandemic is expected to accelerate the ongoing social, technological, economic, and governance transformation that is heralded for the university of the future.2 However, these changes are not a direct consequence of the pandemic.
In spring 2020, we watched as our students grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic as well as with increased xenophobia, both of which thrust issues of race, gender, and socioeconomic disparity into the forefront.1 At the same time, the unique liminal space of the virtual classroom underscored ways in which different loci of power impact individuals in drastically different ways.
Journalists, doctors, and public intellectuals in the United States have turned to history in search of precedents for the novel coronavirus since the implementation of social distancing and stay-at-home measures began. For writers interested in medieval and early modern Europe, this search for historical precedent has often focused on the bubonic plague.
In his treatise on health, Renaissance physician Castore Durante recommends pleasant discussion, entertaining lessons, and regular discourse as not only healthful but also prophylactic. An especially pithy passage tells us that
In February 2020, when COVID-19 began to spread through Italy, Syracuse University Florence was one of the first study-abroad programs in the city to send students home. On 13 March, the Syracuse London program, where I work as the Assistant Director for Teaching and Learning, ended face-to-face classes, as did Syracuse home campus.1 In two weeks we started teaching entirely online. Ending face-to-face instruction is difficult for everyone involved.
On the first day of the spring 2020 semester, I asked students in my Global Baroque Art History class to reflect on terms, ideas, and artists that they associated with the word Baroque. Students shared names such as Caravaggio (1571–1610) and Artemisia Gentilleschi (1593–1656), and words like drama, emotion, gold; one particularly enthusiastic student called out chiaroscuro.
This essay addresses our recent experience with the teaching of early modern court architecture through a variety of online tools to an audience of doctoral researchers scattered throughout Europe and Turkey.
On 17 March this year, my UK higher-education institution York St. John University suspended face-to-face teaching, marking a complete move to online teaching for the rest of term. In that week, universities across Britain and around the world were closing physical doors and moving their classes onto online platforms. My Renaissance history class’s subject that day, depictions of gender, aimed at developing students’ visual-culture skills.