My Syllabus Preparation Hacks

We’re gearing up for the Spring semester here, and that means turning our attention to writing syllabi. I have always loved the creation process for courses, thinking into what skills and content I want my students to walk away with. I enjoy putting together the actual course schedule, considering how to group readings, where to place assignments for maximum effect, and seeing how the course unfolds from my mind’s eye onto the page. By the time I’ve finalized a course schedule, I’m usually impatient to start teaching it and see how students respond (If I don’t have the reaction: “I want to take this class!” then I go back in and fiddle with things until the class as it appears on my syllabus makes me wish I were a student again so I could take it. You can’t fake your own enthusiasm for what you’re teaching, so you might as well give into it and start out with a schedule you’re dying to dig into, yourself.)

Today’s syllabus, however, consists of far more than a course schedule. I don’t know about everyone else, but my syllabi have expanded to 10+ pages with all of the administrative check-boxes included. Where we used to provide the textbook and course materials, a list of course objectives, maybe an attendance and plagiarism policy, some form of information on how students might expect to be graded, and a (more or less complete) schedule of readings and assignments, today’s syllabus includes language on institutional and department learning objectives, general education learning objectives (when warranted), contact policies and procedures, accessibility policies and procedures, institutional learning and studying aids for students, electronics and internet use policies, much more explicit discussion of grading and assessment practices and rubrics, and often a host of other items, dependent upon where and what we are teaching.

And all of this is not a bad thing. I like the idea of my syllabus providing a one-stop shopping experience for my students in terms of locating all of the aids and resources and institutional assistance we offer to enhance and support their academic experience. But there are four realities to contend with concerning today’s syllabus:

1. It’s long and contains a huge amount of information on a wide array of subjects, and students often either do not read it or grow impatient trying to navigate it.

2. In many cases, every professor’s syllabus is slightly different (in some cases, entirely different) even within the same department or program, which leads to confusion.

And, the tandem:

3. The language of institutional and departmental policies is (periodically, in some institutions, and regularly, in others) changed, and

4. Syllabus guidelines, requirements, and templates are becoming more formalized in many institutions, meaning that even if you have a complete syllabus for a course, you are likely at some point to have to revise its structure, format, and/or contents.

As I stated from the outset of this post, I absolutely delight in developing my course schedules and will happily spend hours and hours reviewing and revising and tweaking readings and assignments and when things happen during the term. On the flip side, I absolutely loathe tedious and time-consuming revisions to formatting and policy and regulations content and wording. It takes me pretty much the entire workday to put together a new syllabus, and pretty much an entire workday to revise an old syllabus. That’s a lot of time to devote to just the document outlining the course, and takes away from the time I have to read and prepare for actual teaching.

I have, however, managed to get that time down slightly by tweaking my approach. In what remains in this post, I’ll outline how I used to approach syllabus writing and revision, and then share how I’ve tweaked that approach to streamline things a little more. (I assume that most experienced professors already do most, if not all, of these things to streamline the syllabus-writing process, but this is more for people just starting out who might not think of them in the midst of just trying to get their sea-legs under them.) This is also a post about drafting the initial Word or PDF document; putting a syllabus online in hypertext on a website or electronically in Canvas or another learning platform is a completely different process.

My Original Approach To Drafting / Revising a Syllabus

I used to begin drafting a syllabus for a new course on paper, and that frankly hasn’t changed. I brainstorm learning objectives on one side, make a list of possible readings on the other side, and start adding, deleting, and revising learning objectives and adding or removing readings until things look relatively comprehensive and workable. Then I start grouping readings into units and deciding where assignments go. Then I make a fifteen-week chart and put the readings and assignments into the weeks, and once that’s done, I am ready to go into a Word document and start actually writing the syllabus. We have a mandatory syllabus template, which just lists everything we have to include on the syllabus. We are responsible either for coming up with the wording, ourselves for matters like class policies) or for copying verbatim from official university policies located in the (electronic) student handbook and online in Canvas. We also recently changed all of our general education assessments, which are listed on a giant Excel spreadsheet. This means that to actually write the syllabus up, I typically am moving back and forth between my handwritten course schedule, the syllabus template, the syllabus draft, and various pages of the student handbook, as well as the Excel spreadsheet.


My More Streamlined Approach To Drafting and/or Revising a Syllabus

While you would think that just cut-and-pasting an old syllabus into a new Word document, then removing the unnecessary or outdated or incorrect information from it and add in the new and corrected/updated information would be the fastest and most efficient way to update a syllabus, I have found that in fact it is incredibly cumbersome and time-consuming, so I streamlined the process this way: I now have four documents I work with for all of my syllabi: a blank 15-week chart I can just cut-and-paste into each new syllabus to start with, a Google doc that includes every general education assessment and program learning objective I am responsible for in my various classes, organized by class, a Google doc that includes the student handbook information I’m required to include on my syllabus and all of my drafted language for various other elements, like assessment, grading, and so forth, and whatever the new syllabus template is for the term (my School has gone through three new syllabus templates since 2016.) These four documents save me a lot of time cutting information out of an already-drafted schedule to incorporate the new course schedule information, looking up the general ed requirements on the maser Excel spreadsheet, and coming up with new wording for the various parts of the syllabus. I use the syllabus template to put everything from these documents together however they are asking me to in any given term, update my office hours, and then cut-and-paste that new master into new documents for however many syllabi I am writing in a given term. Then all that is left is to change the title and fill in the schedule for each new course. This approach has saved me, on average, two or three hours of going back-and-forth between documents. That might not sound like much, but in the period before a new term, any time you can rescue from syllabus preparation to put toward either resting and recharging or actual course preparation work–reading, writing lectures, and similar–is a win.

Do you have any ideas for ways to streamline drafting and revising syllabi? I am always up for hearing how other people tackle this task–Let me know in the comments!

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2018 End-of-the-year review (Or, “And I thought 2017 was busy!”)

It’s December 31; time for another “Year In Review” post! Here’s what I managed to accomplish professionally this year:



“‘Compassion and Benignytee’: A Reassessment of the Relationship Between Canacee and the Falcon in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Squire’s Tale.” Medieval Feminist Forum 54.1 (2018). 50—64.

Book reviews

Emotion in Old Norse Literature: Translations, Voices, Contexts, by Sif Rikhardsdottir. The Medieval Review , 25 October 2018.
Available online:

Savage Economy: The Returns of Middle English Romance, by Walter Wadiak. The Sixteenth-Century Journal 49.2 Summer 2018), 635.

Witches and Pagans: Women in European Folk Religion, 700-1100, by Max Dashu. Medieval Feminist Forum 53.2 (2018), 129—131.

Conference Presentations

“Diversifying and Decolonizing the Curriculum at a Conservative Midwestern University: An Account.” (paper) Belle da Costa Greene Conference, Saint Louis, MO, November.

“Failed Ritualized Feasts and the Limitations of Community in Branwen ferch Lŷr.” (paper) Harvard Celtic Colloquium, Cambridge, MA, October.

“Violence, Time, and Memory in Beowulf: The Feast Hall as Cultural Reliquary,” (paper) Saint Louis University Symposium on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Saint Louis, MO, June.

Invited presentation: “The Lone (St)ranger: Building a Community of Medievalists When You’re the Lone (New) Medievalist on Campus,” (roundtable) International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, May.

“Examining the Driving Force of Honor in Medieval Welsh Texts: Violence and the Feast in the Second Branch of the Mabinogion, A Case Study,” (paper) Indiana University Annual Symposium on Medieval Studies, Bloomington, IN, April.

“Power, Gender, and Cannibalism at the Medieval Literary Feast,” (paper) Medieval Academy of America Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, March.

Invited respondent: “’Mewn Dau Gae’ (‘Between two Fields’): No State of Security in Medieval Northatlantic Studies,” panel at the Modern Language Association Convention, New York City, January.

Teaching (courses marked with an asterisk are new or fully revised preparations this year)

This year, I taught a 4-1-4 load from Spring through Fall.


Mythology and Folklore*

Medieval Literature: Violence and Trauma from Beowulf to Malory*

Research and Argumentation (2 sections)

British Literature to 1500

History of the English Language*

Senior Thesis*


British Literature to 1500

Medieval Afterlives: Modern Receptions of the Medieval: Medieval Women and their Afterlives*


to the Profession

Elected to the Southeastern Medieval Association Executive Board

Book reviews editor, Medieval Feminist Forum

Book reviews editor, College Literature

Associate Editor, The Heroic Age

Vice-President of the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship

Member, MLA CLCS Forum on Celtic Studies

Organized and/or chaired 4 conference panels

at Lindenwood

Chair, English Department Curriculum Committee

Member, English department program review committee

Co-chair, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force

Member, President’s University Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Faculty sponsor, Sigma Tau Delta

Humanities blog administrator


Beyond scholarship,  teaching, and service, I also completed two quarters of a five-quarter MFA program in creative writing and coursework in the Icelandic sagas this year, because when such opportunities come available to you and you are a lifelong learner, you take them!

Looking ahead, 2019 will include several article-length publications currently in various stages  of production, alongside the continuation of several ongoing longer projects, including (fingers crossed!) the fully revised first draft of my monograph on violence at the feast in medieval texts, a couple of edited collections, and the two guest-edited journal volumes I began in 2018. I’ll be responding to a panel at MLA again this year, and presenting on teaching roundtables at the Medieval Academy and Kalamazoo. I’ll be teaching some exciting new courses, including an online medieval Celtic literature course, and if everything goes according to plan, completing the MFA and submitting some of my creative work for publication as well. While it sounds like 2019 is already shaping up to be a very busy year professionally, one of my goals for this coming year is to take the advice I so regularly give to my students and slow down, doing more for myself and with my family and taking the time to reflect and meditate upon, and enjoy, my work as well as my play. I hope to cultivate more of an ethos of being, rather than of doing (while still doing … wish me luck!)

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve, and you can look for new posts in 2019.

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The Writing Life …

Many academics (myself, included) write both nonfiction (generally in the form of scholarly articles requiring research) and also fiction, poetry, and other creative works (that may still require research, but not necessarily ready access to the sources being used.) I have been asked on occasion, “what’s the difference between your scholarly and creative writing processes?” I think the answer to that question can best be summed up in two photographs:


Nonfiction/ scholarly / research Work-in-Progress

nonfiction WIP


Fiction / creative Work-in-Progress

fiction WIP


How about you? What does your works-in-progress desk typically look like?

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Nightstand, 10/22. Or, “All the books I have bought but not yet read: a memoir.”

—I am sure many of my readers can relate to this post! So many books, so little time ….

I can’t help but notice from these snapshots of my nightstand, though, that I am nothing if not a consistent reader: violence, religion, identity, feminism, monsters, language, power, medieval, medievalism, memoir, historical fiction, poetry, and education …! The only thing missing is feasts (and that’s because those books are on my desk at work for research purposes.)

What’s on your nightstand?

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Shameless Plug ….

I got a shout-out from MLA on Twitter featuring a piece I wrote on two of my favorite subjects: Beowulf, and feasting-hall violence. It’s available for reading in its conference paper form in the CORE repository and if you’ve got some time to kill and like Beowulf, you should check it out!


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To the Introvert, on the First Day of Teaching

I have been teaching in various educational settings since 1997–that’s 21 years of face-to-face classroom experience–and one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how hard it still is for me, as an introvert, to get up in front of classes. Maybe other introverts have gotten better at it with age and experience, but for me the first day of classes, especially, is still equal parts anxiety, excitement, consternation, anticipation, discomposure, desire, dread,  cautious optimism…. well, you get the idea. It’s just plain HARD.

This is not because I don’t love teaching, but because I do. I love teaching enough to haul my introverted butt up in front of a room of people knowing that by the end of the day I will need a nap, a glass of wine, chocolate, a binky, my blankie (okay, okay, I’m exaggerating, but not by much….) I am passionate about my subject matter and about helping students access the skills and knowledge I can help them acquire. And, I am deeply passionate and enthusiastic about discussing medieval literature and culture. Once I am engaging with substantial matters that are interesting and meaningful to me and I know I am doing so with others who share at least part of that interest, it’s hard to get me to stop, and so once we actually get into the substance of a course and I get to know my students a little, I’m generally good, if in danger of burning myself out. But–that first week or so….. even now, 21 years into this gig, it’s still just plain HARD.

The general public may understandably assume that anyone going into the teaching profession must enjoy interacting with other people and, generally speaking, that’s true. But enjoying being around other people does not automatically equate to extroversion and, in fact, academia tends to attract introverts at least in equal measure to, if not far more so, than extroverts–they do call it “the life of the mind,” after all. However, and especially in today’s academic world, the price of that life spent reading and thinking and writing about a particular subject is teaching it. And even if you are a very, very good teacher, and even if you are a very, very experienced teacher, doing that job well means you’re going to be tired, and doubly-so if you’re an introvert. There are, however, a few tricks and tips I’ve picked up through my own experiences that might help those newer to the profession who also identify as introverts to get through that first week with somewhat less a struggle:

First, visit your classroom(s) by yourself prior to the start of the term, especially if it is a room you have not taught in before. Not only is this good pedagogical practice, allowing you to make sure you will have the space and technology you need to conduct your planned lessons, but it also gives you a chance to examine the room and how you might interact with in and the students in it–is there a technology station? Is there a podium or lectern to stand behind? Is there a table or desk near the front for you to sit at? Where might you be able to walk/pace during class? How close will you be in proximity to your students? Advance awareness of the room you’ll be teaching in gives you a chance to rehearse mentally how you will use that space for your class, which can help ease the first-day jitters.

Don’t wear a suit or new, unfamiliar clothing on the first day, unless you are super comfortable in it. Your first day of class clothing choice needs to be something that makes you feel awesome and at-ease in your skin, since as a first-time teacher and an introvert, perhaps with some Imposter Syndrome thrown into the mix, you are likely to feel a little uneasy. If that’s only ever ripped jeans and a t-shirt you’ll have to make some accommodations–you do need to look professional (ish). But if you have only ever worn a suit to your job interview, this is soooooo not the time to bust out the suit again, especially if you are already feeling nervous and anxious. Wear something you are comfortable in, maybe that gives the students a hint at your personality. (Of course, if you feel like you really need the suit to convey authority, you should go ahead and wear it. The point is, don’t wear anything you don’t actually want to wear out of some idea of “what a professor should look like.”)

On the first day of the term, get to campus at least an hour, preferably more, before your first class. If you are feeling nervous or anxious to begin with, getting to campus fifteen minutes before class starts is going to leave you feeling more rushed and panicked which, in turn, is going to have an effect on your demeanor in the classroom. Give yourself the chance to go to your office, have a cup of coffee or a tea or some other refreshment, and be alone with your materials to charge up for the class, so you feel prepared and as relaxed as possible.

Along those same lines, get to your classroom ten minutes or so before class begins. It’s far less intimidating to be there welcoming the students, than for them to be sitting there waiting for you. You don’t have to stand at the door and greet each of them as they come in–although, if you can swing it, that’s a really good practice to engage in. But at least being in the room when they come in gives you the chance to look around and see them before you have to interact with them, and it also makes you seem prepared, which instills confidence in your students.

Make sure you have a clear plan of action for the first day, and it should not just be going over the syllabus. A lot of experienced, senior scholars will just hold an abbreviated class, during which they introduce themselves, say a bit about the class, have the students introduce themselves, briefly go over a few points in the syllabus, and then dismiss, even if it’s only ten or twenty minutes into the scheduled class session. This is not a good practice for any teacher (in my opinion) but it is definitely not a good practice for first-time teachers or introverts. The first day is going to set the tone for the term. This is your chance to show the students what they can expect from you as an instructor, from the class, and from themselves as students in it, so don’t squander it. I typically start by introducing myself, talking a little about the class and my objectives in developing it, and taking attendance (required at my institution). Then, I go over the syllabus. I follow that by having the students complete a 6-question writing activity: Why are you taking this class? What do you expect to get out of taking the class? After going over the syllabus, what are you most excited about? What are you least excited about? What are you concerned about? What question(s) do you have about the course? I give them about ten to fifteen minutes or so to answer these questions. While they are writing, I look over the attendance sheet and match names to faces, observing their approach to the assignment, and just familiarizing myself with them visually, which makes me feel more comfortable talking with them later. Then, I complete the class by having them ask their questions out loud and answering them, and collecting their papers, which I read later to learn a little about each of them before the second class, and if there is time left over, we begin the first reading or I offer an initial, brief lecture on the first reading. This makes for a low-key, low-stakes, but effective first-day introduction to the course for them, and introduction to them for me.

INTROVERT FIRST-DAY PRO-TIP: Many professors will disagree with me, but I find it helpful to save the icebreaker and introduction activities for later in the first week. Every interaction you have is a little of your energy used, and superficial interactions are draining, especially when you are already a little anxious. In the past, I have taken most of the first day of class doing introductions and trying to get to know my students right away, found myself investing a lot of extra energy into some students who seemed reluctant or not really interested in the course, and then they dropped the class anyway–so, I was anxious, tired from expending the energy,  and my efforts at engaging them were not appreciated or reciprocated, which is a triple-whammy for introverts. PLUS, then there were new students who needed to be folded into the mix because they added after the first day, and doing initial introductions several times can be construed by students as a waste of class time (and is also hard on those of your students who share your introversion). Because of those experiences, I do NOT ask my students to introduce themselves and give one interesting fact, etc. on the first day. On the first day, they want to know about the professor and the class, and typically the first week or so of a new term is a revolving door of students dropping and adding classes for a variety of reasons that may or may not have anything to do with you or your class. I wait until the last class session of the first week, when enrollment has more or less stabilized,  to have students introduce themselves to me and to each other, because that’s more likely to be the group I’ll be investing in for the term, and therefore, that’s time well-spent. (As you become more established and start having repeat students in your courses, this all gets a bit easier, because you can count on a familiar and/or friendly face in the crowd to turn to if needs be.)

Finally, just understand and make peace with the fact that you are going to be exhausted during the first week no matter how well it goes. You know yourself well enough to know how you respond when you are tired and stressed out, and you should rally all of your forces to support yourself during the first week of classes. At a bare minimum, do not schedule any outside appointments, meetings, or events beyond your teaching and office hours schedule and committee requirements, make sure you eat (some) healthy foods, and get enough sleep. My routine for the first week of classes is to work out at least 40 minutes each day BEFORE teaching (because it is soooo not happening after) because working-out makes me feel less stressed, to give myself the luxury of a face mask and a glass of wine each night, and to schedule something low-key as a reward that I can look forward to at the end of the week, like a movie night with my family, or shopping for a new pair of shoes, or stopping by a bakery for something particularly delicious. I also do not schedule ANYTHING for that first weekend, unless it is absolutely unavoidable.

I would love to hear from other introverts (and even extroverts!) about how they handle the first-day-of-class jitters. Join the discussion in the comments below!


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Another Call for Papers: IMC Leeds 2019

For folks who would prefer to give a paper on Arthurian animals on the other side of the pond, here’s one more CFP, this time for Leeds IMC 2019!

Animals and Materiality in the Arthurian Tradition
Proposed session for the 2019 IMC (Leeds)
Sponsoring organization: The Centre for Arthurian Studies at Bangor University
Organizers: Melissa Ridley Elmes and Renée Ward

We seek papers to compose a session of 3 or 4 papers to the 2019 International Medieval Congress at Leeds. The Congress theme is “Materialities.” This session will consider the materiality of animals in the Arthurian legend.

While scholarship on animals in medieval literature continues to grow, especially considerations of animals in medieval French and English encyclopediae, bestiaries, and romances, relatively little critical work exists on animals in the Arthurian legend, particularly so when we look beyond the mythical White Hart, the Questing Beast, and the dragons. Yet, animals real and imagined abound throughout the pages of Arthurian narratives, appear in related artefacts (art, architecture, stained glass, paintings, and tapestries, for example), and are present in the very production of the manuscripts that preserve the legend. Moreover, recent trends in critical animal studies demand that we expand our understandings of such animal appearances to consider them for their animality—for the qualities that make them beings unto themselves rather than as analogies for humans and their environs.

This proposed session seeks to explore animals and materiality within Arthurian traditions, to serve as the beginning of a continued scholarly discussion of the place of animals within the Arthurian realm, especially of their animality or materiality. We are particularly interested in the ways in which animals and their bodies figure as objects of veneration and/or consumption within the legend, or how, as objects themselves, they contribute to the legend’s production, preservation and perpetuation into post-medieval periods. Do animals within Arthuriana have agency beyond their symbolic functions? How might animals be considered a part of the material landscape of the legend both within and outside of the narratives? In what ways have they carried the legend itself across space and time from the medieval period to the present?

We invite papers from all disciplines and national traditions, and interdisciplinary projects are especially welcome. Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a brief bio to session organizers Melissa Ridley Elmes ( and Renée Ward ( by 31 August 2018. Please include your name, title, and affiliation/status on the abstract itself. Dependent upon the number and quality of abstracts submitted, we will submit one or more full session proposals to the Congress organizers mid-September 2018.

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Calls for Papers: Animal Studies sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies 2019!

Hello, all! I hope you are having a restful and productive summer. Below please find two CFPs for sessions on animal studies at next year’s ‘Zoo, and please share widely and/or consider submitting an abstract if you have anything that fits!

CFP 1: “Animal Crime” at the ICMS 2019 “Kalamazoo”

The International Association of Robin Hood Studies is sponsoring a session on “Animal Crime” at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo:

Outlaws and outlawry are commonly associated with the human; yet, throughout the medieval period, animals were both the subject of crime, as when they were stolen, maimed, or killed, and its perpetrator; for example, the sow and piglets put on trial for murder for killing a 5-year old boy in Savigny, France in 1457. Documented legal trials from a variety of cultures featuring pigs, goats, horses, dogs and cows suggest that medieval understandings of the moral agency, ethics, and politics of outlaws and outlawry was decidedly not simply a human affair, but extended to our animal counterparts. Papers might consider the historically-documented or literary or textual (re)imagining of a trial or set of trials featuring an animal or animals; how animals interact with outlaw humans; the moral agency of animals on trial; the ethics of putting animals on trial; the ethics of outlawing animals; how animals can be constructed as outlaws philosophically, legally, or by other means, how and where animals appear in laws, the treatment of animal outlaws, animal exiles, and similar.

Send abstracts and a completed PIF form to Melissa Ridley Elmes at by 15 September, 2018.


CFP 2: “Arthurian Animals” at the ICMS 2019 “Kalamazoo”

The International Arthurian Society–North American Branch is sponsoring a session on “Arthurian Animals” at the 2019 International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo:

Ecocritical approaches to medieval literature have enjoyed a robust and wide-ranging development in recent years, fueled by the work of scholars including Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Heide Estes, Gillian Rudd, Alfred Siewers, and Vin Nardizzi. Similarly, over the past decade in particular, scholars including Karl Steel, Susan Crane, Peggy McCracken, Lesley Kordecki, and Lynn Van Dyke have proven critical animal studies to be an important means of interrogating ethical, political, and epistemological understandings of the medieval world, and modern receptions of that world. The interdisciplinary theoretical paradigms offered by ecocriticism and animal studies have greatly enriched traditional approaches to and interpretations of medieval texts, opening up new lines of inquiry that establish medieval literature’s place and ensure its continued relevance within the larger theoretical conversations in literary and cultural studies.

While there is now a great deal of scholarship on animals in medieval literature, particularly the animals of medieval French and English encyclopediae, bestiaries, and romances, there has been relatively little critical attention paid specifically to animals in the Arthurian legend, particularly so when we look beyond the mythical White Hart, the Questing Beast, and the dragons. Yet, animals real and imagined abound throughout the pages of Arthurian narratives; one need only examine Kara McShane’s Arthurian Bestiary (…/mcshane-arthurian-bestiary-int…) for a starting point from which to begin looking for them.

This proposed session provides a forum for scholars to consider the presence, narrative function, and critical significance of animals within the entirety of the Arthurian oeuvre, in order to bring Arthurian literary studies into conversation with animal studies generally, and animal studies in medieval literature and culture more explicitly. We intend this session to serve as the beginning of a continued scholarly discussion of the place of animals within the Arthurian realm. Questions that may be considered in this session: what animals are and are not present in these texts, and to what extent can that presence (or lack thereof) be explained by genre, geography, cultural transmission, adaptation, or by other means? Which animals interact with humans, and in what ways? Are there moments in which animals interact with one another, rather than with humans, and if so how does this shift attention from the human to the natural world? Are there unexpected or, perhaps, unintended narrative functions for animals in these texts? What medieval theories of the natural world might be profitably applied to the examination of animals in Arthurian texts? Is there an essential distinction between mythic and real animals in Arthurian texts? Is there any sort of a discernible ethics involved in human interactions with animals? Is there value in examining Arthurian tales through an animal studies critical lens?

Send abstracts of 250-300 words and a completed PIF form to Melissa Ridley Elmes at by 15 September, 2018.

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Once an editor, always an editor….

Thus far in my academic career, I have edited Lenses, the literary textbook used by graduate teaching assistants at University of North Carolina Greensboro, edited Hortulus: The Online Graduate Journal in Medieval Studies, and served as book reviews editor for Medieval Feminist Forum. I am also currently entering into a two-year period as book reviews editor for College Literature. It’s a good thing I happen to enjoy editing, because ….

I am very happy to announce that I have accepted the offer to join the editorial board of The Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe as Associate Editor. The Heroic Age was one of the first open-access digital scholarly journals in medieval studies, and we are working on initiatives to update the interface and bring it into line with contemporary journal appearances and functionality. Meanwhile, we are also looking for your excellent scholarship on medieval Europe c. 4th-13th centuries, in any subject field for our general issues. Don’t forget as well the special issue on “New Feminist Voices in the Heroic Age” that is accepting submissions through early Fall! Send me your work, people!  🙂

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Special Journal Issue: New Feminist Voices in the Heroic Age–Call for Papers

This is a reminder that The Heroic Age special issue: “New Feminist Voices in the Heroic Age,” is still accepting submissions!

We are accepting submissions from graduate students, postdoctoral, and junior or early-stage scholars (pre-tenure or equivalent NTT faculty experience) working in any discipline with a focus on Northwestern Europe in the period covered by the journal, c. 300–1200 CE.; we will also very happily consider comparative approaches that examine a Northwestern European topic against another geographical area. We welcome articles of 7,000 words (inclusive of bibliography and endnotes) and essays of 3,000 words. Submissions do not necessarily have to focus on feminist issues, although they should demonstrate a feminist approach (women’s studies, gender/queer studies, etc.) to the question(s) being addressed.

This issue is being edited on a rolling submissions basis, and we are accepting submissions through the early Fall.

The Heroic Age is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal. This special issue is being edited by Melissa Ridley Elmes and Carla María Thomas.

Submission guidelines and style requirements for The Heroic Age can be found under “Submission Instructions”:

Send submissions to Melissa Ridley Elmes at

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