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  • Writer's pictureLogan Quigley

Reading Chaucer in Mandarin: How Do We Teach the Global Middle Ages Outside the West? (Liendo)

Updated: Feb 24

As medieval scholarship attempts to decenter the West and move towards a global and multicultural approach, we frequently ask: how do we mimic this move in the classroom? Most often, however, this question and its suggested solutions still presuppose a primarily Western and English-native speaking population of students, as well as courses situated within U.S. or European institutions. Informed by her experience teaching comparative medieval courses in both U.S. and non-U.S. institutions (China), Dr. Elizabeth Liendo refocuses our attention in this episode on pedagogy of non-Western and especially non-U.S. institutions. She asks: How can we reconceptualize our understanding of the global medieval and the pedagogy of teaching the medieval period in non-Western institutions, to primarily non-Western and English second language students? How can we make the medieval and early modern period meaningful to an audience that should not be expected to center Western cultural narratives, texts, or history? How do we confront the overweighting of Western texts in the canon while also ensuring that our students receive a similar level of canonical competence as their U.S. counterparts? Dr. Liendo ultimately proposes a more global pedagogical practice that brings a more diverse range of students to the table. She explores challenges such as the Western-centric timeline of the medieval era itself, the association of medieval studies with white or European narratives, and the overweighting of Middle English authors, as well as outlining some potential solutions for class design, course materials, and practical teaching methods.

Elizabeth Liendo has taught medieval and early modern surveys at several institutions, including Pennsylvania State University, Guilford College, and NYU Shanghai. Her teaching experience is broad, and ranges from early period-specific courses like Shakespeare, Arthurian Legend, Brit Lit I, and Love, Sex, and Desire in the Global Early Period to thematic courses like the Hero in World Lit or Gothic Literature. She specializes in gender violence and depictions of erotic violence in the medieval period, having earned her doctorate in Comparative Literature in 2019. She has published on masculinity and vulnerability in Chaucer, as well as on violent re-gendering in Marie de France’s lais. She is currently teaching in Shanghai, China.

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