WMU News

Institute focuses on teaching about a time and place far, far away

June 3, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- While everyone else may be discussing "Star Wars" this summer, 15 college and university instructors from across the United States will be in Kalamazoo to discuss a different place from long ago and far away -- Anglo-Saxon England.

Hoping to strengthen their knowledge and teaching of Anglo-Saxon England, the instructors will be on the Western Michigan University campus for six weeks during June and July to participate in a summer teaching institute organized by the Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies and Manuscript Research in WMU's Medieval Institute.

Funded through a $163,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the institute, which runs from June 21 through July 30, will feature sessions and seminars taught by 11 guest and resident faculty members on topics including vernacular literature, Anglo-Latin literature, history, art and archaeology.

A special theme of the institute will focus on the use and function of online resources for studying and teaching about Anglo-Saxon England. According to Dr. Paul E. Szarmach, director of the Medieval Institute and institute coordinator, online resources allow scholars and students direct access to materials that they normally wouldn't have without extensive travel.

"Online resources allow scholars and students remarkable opportunities to study subjects almost directly," he explains. "For example, if they were to study an old manuscript online, the color resolution and the high quality of the image are comparable to actually physically having the manuscript."

Among the resident and guest faculty are Drs. Roberta Frank, director of the Centre for Medieval Studies, and Antonette diPaolo Healey, the Angus Cameron Professor of Old English Studies, at the University of Toronto; and Dr. Simon Keynes, reader in Anglo-Saxon history and fellow of Trinity College at England's Cambridge University. In addition, Dr. Kevin Kiernan, professor of English at the University of Kentucky and a specialist in digitization and computer enhancement of damaged manuscripts, will also teach. Other faculty participating include Dr. Thomas L. Amos, WMU associate professor of library and information science; Dr. George H. Brown, professor of English at Stanford University; Dr. Patrick W. Conner, the Eberly College Centennial Professor of English and English department chairperson at West Virginia University; Dr. Timothy C. Graham, visiting international scholar at WMU's Medieval Institute; Dr. Catherine Karkov, associate professor of art at Miami (Ohio) University; and Dr. Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, professor of English and fellow of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame.

This is the third NEH grant received by the Rawlinson Center to conduct a summer program on Anglo-Saxon studies. Previous programs were conducted by WMU in 1995 in Kalamazoo and in 1997 at Cambridge. Szarmach says that receiving funding for the institutes is a testament to the excellent efforts being made by the center, Waldo Library and the Medieval Institute to expand the University's resources of Anglo-Saxon material.

"We are very pleased by this," he says. "To receive three NEH grants in five years is an external validation of WMU's excellence."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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