|Office:||419 Ross |
527 Farm House Ln
Office Hours: TR 8-9:15, 12:30-1:45; R 3:30-4:30; and by appointment
Courses I am Teaching
Engl 302: Technical Communication
Ph.D. and M.A. University of Minnesota • English
B.A. cum laude St. Olaf College • Medieval Studies and Latin
Early British drama through the time of Shakespeare; Arthurian legend; medieval British literature and culture; and digital humanities
About My Teaching and How I came to Teach Early Drama, Medieval Studies, and Digital Humanities
“And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.” I wish I could attribute my love of life-long learning and teaching to the impact of reading these words from The Canterbury Tales in context, but I can’t. I read them first in popular fiction when I was in junior high school. After seeing the play Up the Down Staircase, I rushed to read Bel Kaufman’s wonderfully touching, humorous epistolary novel of the same name about Sylvia Barrett, an idealistic teacher at a fictitious inner-city New York high school. I first encountered Chaucer’s description of the Clerke of Oxenford through Barrett’s eyes. Writing to a college friend, she laments,
“What I really had in mind was to do a little teaching. ‘And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche’—like Chaucer’s Clerke of Oxenford, I had come eager to share all I know and feel; to imbue the young with a love for their language and literature; to instruct and to inspire. What happened in real life (when I had asked why they were taking English, a boy said: ‘To help us in real life’) was something else again…” (Kaufman 41).
In retrospect, this anecdote comes remarkably close to emblematic of my current teaching and research interests. My research in early drama, which has always integrated a visual component; not only do I approach the staging of texts from the iconographic perspective, I also consider other ways in which I might capitalize upon the visual aspects of early drama for both teaching and research. Many of my conference presentations and my articles in the publications have explored the relationship between the early drama of Cornwall and the visual arts. Add in my love for films made from books like Kaufman’s, those about heroic, self-sacrificing teachers, and you have it all: drama and literature—both medieval and modern—mediated by technology. These interests have led to my teaching of 14 themed history-literature-film seminars for the University Honors Program and to multiple literature and film classes for the English Department.
Recent Publications and Published Performance
With Douglas L. Biggs. Ames. Images of America Series (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 2014).
The English Parish Church Through the Centuries: Daily Life & Spirituality, Art & Architecture, Literature & Music. Gen. Ed. Dee Dyas. Christianity and Culture Project DVD series. York, UK: Christianity and Culture Project, 2010.
- “The British Saint Play and the Parish,”
- “Non-Liturgical Parish Processions,”
- “Drama and the Medieval British Parish,” with Alan Baragona and Warren Edminster,
- “Festivity and Social Activity in the Parish,” with Helen Phillips.
Chaucer Studio CDs/Downloads for Classroom Use (Published Performance) 2006-2011
Recordings of Middle English Drama in Middle English for Chaucer Studio, Provo, UT, with Alan Baragona, Justin Brent, Carolyn Coulson-Grigsby, Warren Edminster, Thomas Farrell, D. Thomas Hanks, Joseph Ricke, Paul Thomas, Dana-Linn Whiteside, and Susan Yager.
- The Digby MS: The Conversion of St. Paul, 2011. Download.
- Live At Kalamazoo: The York Fall of Angels, Fall of Man, Abraham and Isaac; The Brome MS Abraham and Isaac, 2009. Download.
- Towneley Plays Live at Kalamazoo: Mactacio Abel, Processus Noe, Magnus Herodus, Iudicium, 2006. CD-ROM
Outside of the University
In January 2014, I began a four-year term as the Ames City Council Representative for Ward 1 because I want Ames to continue to be a great place to live. As part of my Council responsibilities, I am serving a two-year term on the Ames Economic Development Commission Board, learning about the ways in which Ames strives to be an economically healthy and viable city.
I also dabble in local history and stay involved in historic preservation in Ames and around Iowa. In 2014, Arcadia Press Images of America Series published Ames, the book I co-authored with my husband, Dr. Douglas Biggs. Ames uses archival photos to explore the history of Ames from 1864 to 2014 and has been released to coincide with the Ames Sesquicentennial. As a Board Member and former Interim Executive Director and President of Preservation Iowa, the state’s 501c3 for historic preservation advocacy, I stay engaged with preservationists and their projects throughout the state and work with our preservation partners—the Iowa Department of Economic Development Main Street Program and the Department of Cultural Affairs State Historic Preservation Office—to plan preservation activities statewide.