Do you know your classics?

This morning the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach English Literature because students do not know the Bible or classical mythology. Having encountered very similar problems when teaching classic works like those by Shakespeare or Milton, but also more modern and popular genres like fantasy and modern poetry, this semester I started teaching a new course that is designed to introduce classical mythology to students and also to explore the way the mythical themes have been used in English literature, from medieval to modern. The title of the course is Classical Myths in English Literature, and it is open both to undergraduates and to adult learners. I am also working on writing this course for online delivery so watch this space for a relevant announcement!

Following the poet laureate’s comments, BBC Radio Wales’ programme Good Evening Wales interviewed me on my experience of students’ knowledge of the classics and the Bible.

The painting is “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli, housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Tolkien at Kalamazoo

The International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University, is one of the oldest and most prestigious conferences on Medieval Studies in the world. The conference is now in its forty-fourth year, and for the past nine years has featured sessions on Tolkien, including papers and round-table discussions. This year, the conference will take place between the 7th and 10th of May 2009, and the programme has just been made available here. I will be taking part in the roundtable discussion on Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories”, presided by Douglas A. Anderson and Verlyn Flieger, on Saturday 9th May.