Upcoming NHC Webinars

Registration is now open for the National Humanities Center 2023–24 Humanities in Class Webinar Series. Each webinar is a live, interactive professional conversation led by a scholarly expert addressing a compelling topic through the lens of the humanities. Appropriate for educators at all levels, from K-12 to collegiate classrooms, each session features research, source documents, and readings to support the discussion. Webinars are free of charge but require registration: https://goto.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1621294&tp_key=61040986e0.

Two of the upcoming webinars have a medieval focus:

“Teaching Chaucer”

Timothy L. Stinson (NHC Fellow, 2021–22; Associate Professor of English, North Carolina State University)
January 11, 2024
The reasons why someone would want to study Chaucer are widely known. He is, after all, celebrated as the “father of English literature,” famous for putting English literary culture on an equal footing with its continental European competitors. His poetry contains multitudes; it is at turns spiritual and earthy, learned and colloquial, earnest and lighthearted. Generations of students have come to love Chaucer’s sly humor, refreshing lack of orthodoxy, and novel framing of humanity’s perennial questions and quandaries. But his poetry presents significant challenges for the beginning reader, as well as the instructor tasked with teaching it for the first time. His fourteenth-century English differs considerably from our own. He assumes a deep knowledge of classical and biblical traditions. And he relies upon knowledge of medieval genres and social constructions that only those with special training will know. This webinar aims to equip instructors with tools and assignments to build bridges between what is unfamiliar in Chaucer and our students’ areas of expertise (e.g., modern television and film genres). By the end of the seminar, participants will have both a deeper knowledge of Chaucer and his poetry and concrete examples of exercises and approaches for teaching his poetry.

“Myth-Busting Medieval Disability”

Kisha G. Tracy (Professor, English Studies, Fitchburg State University)
January 30, 2024
The topic of disability heritage rarely receives the attention that it deserves, despite the fact that people with disabilities are integral to every society and every time period. The discomfort many feel at engaging with disability—and, further, with disability studies—stems from long-standing stigma and from a fear of understanding that any person at any time may experience disability, either themselves or through someone close to them. Emphasizing disability heritage helps to alleviate this stigma and fear, affecting how people with disabilities are treated and understood today. Popular myths about disability in the Middle Ages in particular tend to be rather grim, assuming that people with disabilities were always treated with disdain if not outright violence. While these experiences certainly existed, the reality of medieval disability is far more complex and dynamic. This webinar will help educators navigate preconceptions about medieval disability and illuminate the heritage of disability. By the end, educators will be able to teach about disability heritage using examples of individuals with disabilities, their experiences, and how they were treated in the past; how the field of disability studies applies to the Middle Ages; and how historical disability helps us understand and discuss modern disability.

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