When the COVID pandemic caused our university to pivot to an improvised online-education model, we faced many of the same struggles as other instructors suddenly transitioning to remote teaching, and we responded in many of the same ways. We had an additional challenge, however, in that we were team-teaching an interdisciplinary freshman class called Western Culture and Worldview. This is a class required of all students in our university Core, and it aims to provide a context for global citizenship by exploring the Western foundations of American and European culture.
In the spring of 2020, our team of three Ph.D. students taught an interdisciplinary first-year seminar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The course, titled “In the Flesh: The Constructed Body in Medieval and Renaissance Europe,” investigated the body through a sequential study of medieval European history, Italian Renaissance art, and English Renaissance literature.
“Women’s Writing in the Seventeenth Century” is a module which has been offered and taken up enthusiastically at Loughborough University since the early 1990s. Initially the module was planned around texts available in Her Own Life: Autobiographical Writings by Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen (1989), coedited by the module’s founder Professor Elaine Hobby, supplemented with photocopied examples of women’s manuscript and published works.
The most deadly pandemic in history was the fourteenth-century outbreak of plague that contemporaries called the “great plague” or the “pestilence of mortality” and that later acquired the name Black Death. It killed one-third to one-half the population in some areas, and may have had a global death toll of 100–200 million.
Group projects can be frustrating for students in the best of times. Should they play a role in pedagogy during a pandemic? I struggled with this question in my Age of Reformations course, which included a group board-game project as its final assessment. As originally intended, this project asked groups of students to work together to research a historical event or theme from early modern Europe. Students would then implement concepts such as causality, contingency, and change over time as they designed a historically accurate and playable game.
Although online digital media had always been a part of my Women and Power in Early Modern Spain class, the Covid-19 stay-at-home order issued during the spring 2020 semester turned it into a central feature of my course rather than a supplemental one. This class was taught in Spanish and focused on the political and social role of women in early modern Spain.
I was midway through teaching an undergraduate seminar on “The Memory Arts in Renaissance Literature” when Grinnell College announced that we would be teaching remotely after spring break. The course focused on early modern English poetry and drama in the context of memory studies, and much of our discussion dwelt upon how a culture’s collective memory is perpetuated through literature. I had planned our final unit to consider the use of early modern literature for commemorative practices in our own era.
In the spring of 2020, the novel coronavirus manifested a global pandemic (COVID-19) large enough to require a complete shift in higher education. Students and educators had to adapt to digital classes; some universities faced complete restructuring and closures. Even before the switch to online lessons, difficulties persisted in the teaching of early modern studies, specifically the interplay between those centuries and ours, a productive link that is often hard to teach and hard for undergraduates to grasp. By relating my experience teaching Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (ca.
The Medici Archive Project [MAP] online platform offers a vital digital tool for students to become researchers in Renaissance and early modern studies during the age of COVID-19. Digitized document collections are more crucial than ever when archives and research libraries are closed due to pandemic quarantines.