In this second Fall offering my Medieval Epic Through the Lens of Game of Thrones class, I wanted to shake up my assignments a bit, especially after researching into alternative assessment and inclusive teaching practices. In my class, this sometimes takes the form of options of assignments so that students can demonstrate their learning in a manner that resonates with them. In keeping with the spirit of both Chrétien de Troyes (having read Yvain, Erec and Enide, and Cligés for class) and George RR Martin (since we read The Hedge Knight in addition to regularly discussing the HBO show), I decided to offer my students a creative writing option instead of an analytical final paper. For the creative option, students were to be graded based on demonstrating their understanding of Campbell’s monomyth, courtly love tropes, and traditional medieval chivalry. Students had to incorporate these elements, though not necessarily follow them. Many chose to acknowledge the traditions by breaking them, and others subverted these traditions by gender-swapping. Overall, the results were even better than I hoped for! The assignment also gave me insight into my students’ interests and thought processes in a way that a traditional paper would not have done. Both they and I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment! I am here sharing the short stories of just a few of the best.
A junior French major, Megan found inspiration in the celebrated medieval tapestry La Dame à la licorne (picture below) and imagined a story around the scene depicted in the tapestry. She also worked to imitate the style of Chrétien de Troyes and Marie de France, especially in the opening.
Read Megan’s story here
A freshman math major, Simon confided to me that he was thrilled to have an opportunity to share his creative writing, an activity that had long been a secret passion. His tongue-in-cheek treatment of the monomyth and medieval traditions reminded me pleasantly of Terry Pratchett.
Read Simon’s story here
A senior English major, Zach surprised me by choosing the creative option over the analytical one, but he said it was nice to have a real change of assignment and an opportunity to try something different. He captured the orality of medieval tradition and began by imitating a Chrétien-type prologue.
Read Zach’s story here