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Early Modern Classroom

  • Christopher Maginn
    Fordham University

    As was the case for so many university lecturers around the world, my spring 2020 semester was abruptly altered from a planned, in-person and lecture-based learning format to an unplanned, digital distance-learning format. Suddenly, there were a range of platforms—like Zoom,...

  • Thomas G. Olsen
    The State University of New York, New Paltz

    One of my early thoughts was “I’ll call it ‘The Decameron Project’ and invite authors to submit flash-fiction to a new website. Each day we’ll post a new short story to entertain and distract shut-in readers.” The parallels between Boccaccio’s fictional flight from plague-ravaged Florence and the world’s impending self-quarantine seemed obvious, not least because my wife’s Lombard family were already in strict lock-down while death gripped her native city Brescia, eventually claiming her cousin, among thousands of others. I had an uneasy feeling that we could easily hit 100...

  • Chelsea McKelvey
    Auburn University

    As part of the shift to online teaching, students in my Introduction to Composition course were tasked with creating a video post for their end-of-term research presentations. Oral presentations are an institutional requirement for this course, and face-to-face presentations are typically one of my favorite parts of the class. This solution to the remote-teaching challenge revealed an unexpected truth about my students. When watching their presentations, I was surprised that students were engaged and devoted; indeed, they were even more engaged than during in-person...

  • Suzanne Magnanini & Sean Babbs
    University of Colorado, Boulder

    The Pedagogical Foundations

    The transition to virtual classes during the spring semester 2020 provided many unique challenges for those teaching early modern topics. However, in some senses, working with texts that are hundreds of years old (and in the public domain) proved to be more amicable to virtual teaching than for courses on contemporary topics. Here, we (an Italian Professor and a Special Collections Librarian at the University of Colorado Boulder) highlight two case studies for classes that transitioned well to a virtual...

  • Rachel Miller
    California State University, Sacramento

    Although my 140-student survey of art history from 1300 to 1700 is always filled with a wide variety of students, the majority of them take the class to fulfill a general-education requirement. Though many of these students enroll because they are interested in the subject, there is always a sizeable portion who take my class because it is the only one with open seats that fits their schedule. My single biggest challenge every semester is convincing this type of student that the course is worth their time and attention. Of course, I am not always successful with everyone, but I...

  • Elizabeth Sauer
    Brock University

    “The Age of Melancholy: Early Modern Drama, Poetry, and Prose–1603 to the English Revolution” is an undergraduate course I taught on various occasions, and one in preparation for online delivery this year. Retitled “The Multimedia Age of Melancholy,” the course is deliberately designed for the closet, a richly resonant term, whose cognates, connotations, and denotations I encourage students to learn and deploy throughout the course.1 This article demonstrates that the course’s subjects—early modern closeted performances and...

  • Dominique Hoche
    West Liberty University

    Epistolary-writing studies is one area of the medieval and early modern world that lends itself well to online teaching. Because of their exposure to social media, students are familiar with the intimate nature of letters. They recognize the rhetorical techniques and tricks because they have learned to use them themselves and are familiar with (and forgiving of) the inevitable misunderstandings that will occur. Now that they are learning remotely rather than in person and are told to practice social distancing, students are even more aware of the need for social connection and...

  • Elizabeth Goodwin
    York St John University

    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. The attendant discussion focused on the roles of art’s (often female) patrons, subjects, and audiences, as well as the roles Renaissance art...

  • Krista De Jonge & Sanne Maekelberg
    KU Leuven

    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 Tuesday, 14 April 2020 a varied team of doctoral students, supervisors, and associated researchers was supposed to gather in Munich for the opening session of the first international training week of the PALAMUSTO program. This Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network (MSCA ITN) unites five...

  • Christa Irwin
    Marywood University

    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. In the weeks that followed, the class discussed whether those qualifiers were adequate to describe what we were seeing in the seventeenth century and most students began to question whether that...

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