Course Blog

In CB51: Making the Middle Ages, the teaching staff, consisting of Professor Dan Smail and TFs Rowan Dorin, Zoe Silverman, Joey McMullen, and Rena Lauer, introduced the course with a class blog, which continued to be used throughout the course for cataloguing, exploring, and learning about historical representations.


The following description comes from digital history@harvard:   

"In this project, students posted comments, images, and websites of interest to a course blog. The primary goals of this project were:

  1. To explore contemporary representations of a historical period (in this case, the Middle Ages)
  2. To learn about students' own perceptions of a particular topic (including "Medieval", "Byzantine", and others)
  3. To allow students to foster class discussions by posting items of interest

During the first lecture, the students were asked to set up a Tumblr account and then login to the student blog page, 'Get Medieval' (a subsidiary page of the main course blog, 'Making the Middle Ages'). The first assignment was to 'harvest' the medieval in the world around them by snapping photos of anything that seemed 'medieval' on the campus itself, collecting and recording thoughts from classmates and passersby about what 'medieval' meant to them, and searching the internet for phrases associated with the word 'medieval'. They then posted their findings before the second class, which served as the basis for a lecture on neomedievalism and the 'modern' Middle Ages. In subsequent weeks, students were asked to do the same for other course topics (such as "Byzantium/Byzantine"). They also posted brief group assignments for class-wide discussion, as well as end-of-course thoughts on the term 'Middle Ages/medieval'. Key take-aways for the students were early and easy engagement with the course theme and the ability to shape course lectures and discussions. It also proved a helpful resource for teaching staff in terms of identifying individual student interests and monitoring student participation."



Here are the instructions for the first Tumblr assignment from the course webpage:

"Before midnight on Wednesday (5 Sept), take twenty minutes to 'harvest' the medieval in the world around you: snap photos of anything on campus that seems medieval to you; collect and record thoughts from random passers-by about what the medieval means to them; search the internet for phrases (e.g. “medieval Taliban”, "feudal economics") and gather the most interesting results! 

Then post your photos/videos/audio/text to the "Get Medieval" Tumblr blog, to be discussed in Thursday's lecture. Be sure to tag your post with appropriate descriptors (see here for an example). 

In order to submit a post to the blog, send a message containing your email address to [Tumblr email address omitted]. We will send you a reply with instructions on setting up a Tumblr account if you don't already have one. Then login at and submit your posts! (Note: if you don't want to set up a Tumblr account, you can just submit your posts here, but you won't be able to tag them.)

ATTENTION SHOPPERS: If you missed Tuesday's class, don't worry in the least about not having a chance to "Get Medieval". Given the rush of shopping week, we don't expect that everyone will have a chance to post something. The Tumblr site will remain active; by all means add to it later if you want."