Time: MW 2-3:15PM
Location: THOM 212

Syllabus: “The Middle Ages"
Course Description
The Middle Ages is as alive today as it has ever been. We see popular images in movies, literature, media, and even in everyday speech. But what was the time period really like? And why are we so fascinated with it? This course, through a study of a variety of texts and discussions about culture, religion, and history, will explore the rich and sometimes surprising medieval imagination. At the same time, we will examine the accuracies as well as the errors in current perceptions. Along the way, we’ll look at works ranging from plays to farces to adventures to historical chronicles, creating a vivid image of this complicated, intriguing world. We will analyze films, enjoy recorded interpretations, and debate our individual readings. Hopefully, by the end of the semester, you will feel comfortable articulating your individual interpretations and voicing your agreement or disagreement with other readings in a logical and persuasive way by identifying significant themes, stylistic choices, characters, and passages from texts.
From University Catalog
"This course is an introduction to primary texts of the medieval period, c. 500-1500, from both the British Isles and continental Europe, and explores the interconnected literary history of these traditions. Possible readings include the earliest extant Old English epic Beowulf, Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, Norse sagas, and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Genres covered may include epic, history, poetry, mysticism, hagiography, romance, and drama."

What Will We Learn?
At the end of this course, successful students will be able to:
  • recognize and articulate the characteristics and transmission history of a variety of literary traditions in different time periods and locations;
  • read works of literature closely and thoroughly;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of literature;
  • engage with the detailed research process and apply information literacy skills effectively in a variety of contexts;
  • analyze the value of scholarly sources and demonstrate this analysis through reflection and its use as evidence in written and oral communication; and
  • develop and support insights effectively through written and oral communication, particularly via essay and public wiki.

Instructor: Dr. Kisha Tracy

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Office: Miller Hall 204
Office Hours: MW 9:30-10:45 or by appointment
Phone: x4827
Mailbox: Miller Hall, English Studies Department Office
*Email: ktracy3@fitchburgstate.edu (best way to contact)
*Email Policy: with the exception of weekends, if you do not receive a reply in 24 hours, email again.

Dr. Tracy is an Associate Professor of English Studies, specializing in medieval British and early world literatures, as well as the Co-Coordinator of the Center for Teaching and Learning. Her research specialty is Middle English literature, the time period of Geoffrey Chaucer. Her hobbies include photography, martial arts, classic films, and trips to historical sites. She is also an avid fan of the Boston Bruins.

Credentials:
  • Ph.D., Medieval Studies, University of Connecticut
  • Certificate in College Teaching, Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts

Course Requirements:
At a Glance

Weekly Quizzes: 15%

Throughout the semester, you will complete Weekly Quizzes dedicated to our material (i.e. readings, discussions, etc.) from the course. They will be due on the Friday at midnight of the week assigned. Links to the quizzes, which will take different forms, as well as requirements, expectations, and instructions for this assignment are available on the wiki and will be discussed in class.
See “Late/Incomplete Work” section under “Course Policies.”

Assignment demonstrates student achievement of objectives: to recognize and articulate the characteristics and transmission history of a variety of literary traditions in different time periods and locations; to analyze the value of scholarly sources and demonstrate this analysis through reflection and its use as evidence in written and oral communication; and to read works of literature closely and thoroughly.

Why? "What's Happening in Your Brain When Your Imagination Is Active?"

Endeavors: 15%

Throughout the semester, we will have class periods dedicated to Endeavors. These will be interactive activities centered on either upcoming work for Medievalist for a Semester, on the readings, or on special units. There will be requirements to complete during class, which will be turned in before you leave.
Assignment demonstrates student achievement of objectives: to demonstrate an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of literature; to recognize and articulate the characteristics and transmission history of a variety of literary traditions in different time periods and locations; to read works of literature closely and thoroughly; and to engage with the detailed research process and apply information literacy skills effectively in a variety of contexts.

Why? "Active Learning for the College Classroom"
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Medieval Cultural Heritage Project: 15%

This semester, you will participate in a project funded by a grant through the Massachusetts Women in Public Higher Education organization. The focus of this project is to curate a photography exhibition paralleling the ancient to medieval cultural heritage stories from other countries to the cultural heritage stories of local New England communities, particularly centered on Fitchburg.
All of the requirements will be listed on the wiki and will be discussed in detail in class. See Late/Incomplete Work” section under “Course Policies.”

Assignment demonstrates student achievement of objectives: to recognize and articulate the characteristics and transmission history of a variety of literary traditions in different time periods and locations; to read works of literature closely and thoroughly; and to demonstrate an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of literature.
Why?

Medievalist for a Semester: 40%

Almost half of the work in the course will be dedicated to this semester-long research project. All of the requirements will be listed on the wiki and will be discussed in detail in class. There are several parts to this project, and each part will be graded. The work for this project is intended to be done consistently throughout the semester and not just at the scheduled checkpoints. Note: by turning in your Journal Article in this course, you are agreeing to submit your work to the plagiarism software used by Fitchburg State, Turnitin, and the databases associated with it. See “Late/Incomplete Work” section under “Course Policies.”

Assignment demonstrates student achievement of objectives: to recognize and articulate the characteristics and transmission history of a variety of literary traditions in different time periods and locations; to read works of literature closely and thoroughly; to engage with the detailed research process and apply information literacy skills effectively in a variety of contexts; to analyze the value of scholarly sources and demonstrate this analysis through reflection and its use as evidence in written and oral communication; and to develop and support insights effectively through written and oral communication, particularly via essay and public wiki.
Why? "The Information Literacy Imperative in Higher Education"

Professionalism (participation, discussion, Facebook group, attendance, group work, class preparation, etc.): 10%

Since it is necessary to attend class in order to receive instruction and participate, attendance will be noted. You have 3 absences – excused or unexcused – to use as you see fit. Suggestion: “spend” them wisely. 2 late arrivals will count as 1 absence. More than 3 absences will cost 1 letter grade per absence. 6 absences will result in FAILURE of the course. Students are responsible for signing themselves in each class period. Students who must miss a number of classes or who have a conflict with the final exam due to extenuating circumstances should contact the Dean’s Office (Sanders 204; 978-665-3130) and ask them to issue formal notification to all instructors regarding the absence. Students are responsible for all work despite any missed classes.*Students may, if they choose and as a courtesy, inform me of impending absences that fall into the above category. However, I will not always reply unless there is a question or concern to be addressed.*

While including attendance in class, this part of the final grade will involve participation in discussion and preparation of assigned materials, including readings and written responses. In order to participate in class and earn the participation grade, you must be fully prepared, engaged (which includes using laptops, etc., appropriately during class time – also, besides laptops, please turn off all electronic devices, especially cell phones and iPods, during class), present a positive attitude, and contribute to class.

Requirement demonstrates student achievement of outcome: to develop insights effectively through written and oral communication.

Why? "Blend Online and In-Class Discussions to Give Every Student a Voice"



Note on Wiki and Facebook
Our Wiki is a public space; our Facebook is a closed group, but on the social media site. If, at any time, you have issues with any information (i.e. creating accounts, user names, use of legal name, etc.) that you are asked to publish in these spaces, especially if these issues are privacy related, please see the instructor in order to discuss your concerns and potentially make alternate arrangements. If you have any concerns with course responsibilities as related to FERPA rights, please see the instructor in order to discuss alternative options.

Why? "The Benefits of Sharing Student Work in Online Spaces"

Note on Turnitin
Much of the work will be turned in through the University's Turnitin system on Blackboard. This is a plagiarism software that checks work against other work uploaded to it as well all digital sources available. I will NOT accept work handed in through any other method (this includes hard copies and email).

Other Course Policies:

Special NeedsIf you have a documented special need for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, please contact me and the Disability Services Office in the Hammond Building as soon as possible.
Plagiarism/Academic Dishonesty
It is assumed that, at this point in your academic career, you are aware of proper citation and citation styles as well as appropriate use of source materials. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will result in FAILURE of the course. Academic integrity is central to the mission of educational excellence at Fitchburg State University. Each student is expected to turn in work completed independently, except when assignments specifically authorize collaborative effort. Types of misconduct and ways to avoid it are on Blackboard under “Course Documents." Pay attention as ignorance of the policy will not serve as an excuse. If an assignment becomes frustrating or you have questions, please discuss the problem with me. Read the University’s Academic Integrity Policy as well as the Office of Student Conduct, Mediation and Education.

Facebook/Blackboard/Email
There will be a Facebook group for this course, which will include announcements, discussion, links, etc. A Blackboard course has been created for this class, and all of the information, including the syllabus, course schedule, and any changes thereto, will be posted. Links to on-line readings will be posted periodically. Only important Blackboard announcements will be posted; notices of these go to your school email. Students are responsible for accessing and reading all materials, including ANY announcements on Facebook and Blackboard. In addition, students will be responsible for checking the Facebook group and their school email account as both will be the primary methods of communication for the course. This means students are responsible for immediately contacting me if Facebook, Blackboard, and/or email become a problem.

Cell Phones, iPods, Other Electronic Devices
Besides laptops (or equivalent), please turn off all electronic devices, especially cell phones and iPods, during class. Laptops (or equivalent) will be needed regularly; however, it is expected that all activity on laptops will be focused on the class.

Late/Incomplete Work
Late assignments without prior permission or without the presence of extenuating circumstances will result in a lowering of the assignment grade. For each class period that an assignment is late, the final will be docked one letter grade. In-class work must be completed at the designated times unless we have made a previous arrangement. PLEASE MAKE SPECIAL NOTE that any incomplete work that does not meet the guidelines provided for that assignment (i.e. page length, font, etc.) will be docked one letter grade.

Canceling Class
If, for some reason (especially illness or weather-related), I must cancel class when the campus is not closed, an email will be sent to all students by at least 6AM.

Course Commandments:

Thou shalt...
…PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSION. (Some of the best insights for understanding texts and deciding on assignment topics comes from sounding ideas off of other people; use the class setting as an opportunity to do this. Also, class will be more interesting for everyone if there is lively discussion.)
…read and adhere to “Writing Expectations” document.
…remember to complete your on-going assignments.
…NOT try to complete the Teacher, Editor, Writer work at the last minute. It will not be manageable. Complete the work a little along so that you do not get behind and so that you can get the full benefit of the assignment.
…prepare questions and thoughts before coming to class. (It will be easier to participate in discussion if a few questions and impressions are brought to class.)
…attempt to make connections between readings.
…do all of the readings. (Not completing the readings is always very tempting. However, doing so will make it much more challenging to participate in discussion.)
…create drafts of work. (The importance of working on early drafts and soliciting feedback cannot be stressed enough. Turning in work that has not been reread, revised, and proofread will automatically result in a lower grade.)
…plan ahead. (There is a schedule attached with all of the readings and assignments; take the time to look at this schedule and plan accordingly.)
…do outside reading. (It is perfectly appropriate and is encouraged for students to do readings and research outside of what is assigned; this will help to generate more discussion in class and will make writing essays easier.)
…TALK TO THE INSTRUCTOR. (If there is a problem or a question, particularly about ANYTHING that may prevent you from completing readings/assignments, please talk to me either before or after class or by email. There is much I can do to help, but only if I know there is a problem. Unfortunately, I am NOT a mind reader.)

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Did you know…
…every three-credit course is allowed and encouraged to require a MINIMUM of six hours of work per week OUTSIDE of the time spent in class? Keep this in mind as you are planning your schedule and thinking about how much effort you are putting into this course. See the Purdue University Student Guide to Creating a Successful College Experience.

Grading Scale:
GPA
Letter Grade
Number Grade
4.0
A
95 –100
3.7
A-
92 – 94
3.5
A-/B+.
89 - 91
3.3
B+
86 – 88
3.0
B
83 – 85
2.7
B-
80 – 82
2.5
B-/C+
77 – 79
2.3
C+
74 – 76
2.0
C
71 – 73
1.7
C-
69 – 70
1.5
C-/D+
67 – 68
1.3
D+
64 – 66
1.0
D
60 – 63
0.0
F
0 – 59