Rosanne Fleszar Denhard
Ph.D., State University of New York-Albany
M.A., College of St. Rose
B.A., College of St. Rose
Fall 2014 Office Hours
Mark Hopkins 103-C | 413- 662-5195 | Email Rosanne Denhard
Travel Course: Arts of Med/Ren. Britain
Areas of Teaching, Scholarship, & Special Projects
Medieval and Early Modern/Renaissance British literature and interdisciplinary arts and culture; literary theory; literature in performance; life-writing; pedagogy.
William Shakespeare; Advanced Shakespeare; British Literary Survey; Critical Reading; The Age of Milton; Medieval & Renaissance English Drama; The Age of Chaucer; Novels in Context; Arts of Medieval & Renaissance Britain (travel course); Senior Seminar: Early Modern Life-Writing.
Why I do what I do
Through my work I can communicate the joy and solace found in the narratives of the past. I believe that--across time and space and all that divides people--there are human expressions that transcend these divisions, or at least make them comprehensible, in ways that illuminate something of the human experience. We can't access the past without understanding history and culture, so the study of context is vital. Ultimately, it's all about human stories: complex, interwoven, changing, repeating. . . a continuum.
Reflections. . .
Recent semesters have kept me busy with projects in my classes and beyond as I delighted in the curiosity and creativity of some especially lively students and integrated the wider world into courses and class activities. Undergraduate research conferences campus-wide and statewide, a research field trip and class attendance at a play production-these activities deepen students' learning and sense of belonging to a community of scholars. A highlight of the year was certainly the study visit to the Chapin Rare Books Library of Williams College that I arranged for the Advanced Shakespeare class. There, the helpful librarians assembled the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Folios and we had the rare opportunity of interacting with the Folios and a collection of major source materials. This experience brought the class into physical contact with the material past of the early through late 17th century, something that deepened the students' connection with Shakespeare's work in an exceptionally vivid way. Earlier in the semester, I integrated Advanced Shakespeare undergraduate teaching assistant Tyler Prendergast's Yorick production of The Tempest (inspired by Tyler's research begun during our Honors Arts of Medieval & Renaissance Britain travel course) into the curriculum of my both the 300- and 400-level Shakespeare courses. I also recently took on the role of faculty advisor to the English/Communications national honor society, Lamba Iota Tau (LIT). With the able leadership of student Jesse McMillan as President, plans are in the works for a revitalization of our campus LIT chapter. Another involvement this year has been my involvement in shaping a merit-based scholarship help fund students with the costs of travel courses. I also had the pleasant task of guiding Nicole Braden's Commonwealth Honors Thesis, "Beyond Belletrism: The Philosophical Core of Literature," which she successfully presented before her graduation in December 2012. The year culminated with my promotion to the rank of full Professor, effective with the 2013-2014 academic year.
About my teaching style
My classes are active and discussion-oriented. Students ask questions and seek answers both independently and as part of a community of learners. Over the years, MCLA has consistently maximized my ability to help students achieve success and to take away something lasting for their continued use and benefit. My students explore literary studies in ways they might not have experienced before--experimenting with literature in performance; learning the arts and culture of Britain "live" through the Arts of Medieval and Renaissance Britain travel course; polishing their research projects for presentation at the MCLA Undergraduate Research Conference, Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference and COPLAC Regional Undergraduate Conference; collaborating in projects such as the Margaret Cavendish Performance Project with Prof. Gweno Williams at the College of York-St. John, UK and with master teachers at Shakespeare's Globe; and using technology in a student-designed class website for the Arts of Medieval and Renaissance Britain course and the production of videotaped literature-in-performance programs. This sort of engaged and "hands on" collaborative learning is so rewarding for students and also opens new insights for me into teaching and learning. Participation in the Berkshire Compact's "Berkshire County Goes to College" program has provided my students and me with a forum for sharing our passion for English/Communications and Liberal Arts education with enthusiastic 6th -grade students from area schools, helping them to imagine their futures in higher education.
Back to Britain in 2014 with The Arts of Medieval& Renaissance Britain class
During the Spring 2014 semester, the Arts of Medieval & Renaissance Britain class will travel to England and Scotland again during Spring Break for the travel component of this full-semester course. The course is a cross-listed offering of the English/Communications Department and the Honors Program. We participate in a wide variety of activities, all tuned to the course's interdisciplinary arts focus on the wide historical span of the medieval through Renaissance periods in British cultural history. Many of these are quite in-depth--not typical tourist fare at all. The course uses literary texts as a base, but moves into a much wider sense of interdisciplinary learning. Music, painting, theatre, dance, architecture--we experience all of these in addition to reading poetry and prose of the periods we're exploring. The students travel to put all the pieces of this gigantic historical and cultural puzzle together. They're well prepared to make connections to further their learning in quite sophisticated ways. The best students take full positive advantage of this. Each student completes a major research project --which has the option of incorporating creative work--developed in consultation with me. In recent years, a number of students have moved beyond classroom presentations to present their final projects at our campus-wide URC, the Statewide Commonwealth URC, and the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Regional URC.
All our travel activities are integrated into the course as a whole. For example, our visit to the re-creation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London serves as a research site for study of Shakespeare and Renaissance theatre, popular culture, clothing and costume, and period architecture. Different students use the Globe's resources in different ways. Then, to further the Shakespeare learning segment of our course, we attend a production of a Shakespeare play. When the class and I saw the National Theatre's Production of The Comedy of Errors in 2012, we all had differing and lively perceptions of that performance which were further enriched by our workshop with a Globe Theatre actor-educator. In 2010 my students from MCLA met with students of my collaborator Prof. Gweno Williams at York St. John University (YSJU) for an exciting afternoon of cross-cultural exploration in an Intercultural Symposium that was student-directed. Research, collaboration, the opportunity to problem-solve both academically and socially while away from campus and home-it's an amazingly rich learning opportunity. Read More about the Travel Course: Arts of Med/Ren. Britain.
The sharing of work is a key part of the academic process in all disciplines. Students have opportunities to do this in the classroom, but participating in an undergraduate research conference is a different experience. When students share their research and other academic and artistic work in a conference setting, they become part of the larger conversation in their fields of study and they also reach others outside of their immediate focus area. This is a factor in making our students better prepared for graduate school and for their future careers.
Conference Presentations & Special Projects
As a teaching scholar, I value continued research and collaboration. In June 2012 Associate Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Dawn Shamburger and I collaborated in presenting "Mapping New Routes for the Undergraduate Study of Early Modern Women: Collaboration, Interdisciplinarity, Research, and Academic Travel," a multimedia lecture and workshop for the Pedagogies strand of the triennial "Attending to Early Modern Women" conference in June at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. My July 2011 presentation for the International Margaret Cavendish Society's Biennial Conference in Belgium was entitled, "From Continental Exile to The Convent of Pleasure: Undergraduate Student Explorations of Margaret Cavendish's Textual & Material Self-Fashioning". In March of 2011, I presented a Faculty Brown Bag talk and slide show: "What I Did During My Fall Sabbatical: Reflections on a Semester out of the Classroom." In November, 2009 I presented a workshop on "Approaches to Studying Early Modern Women in the Undergraduate Classroom" with my collaborator Prof. Gweno Williams at the Attending to Early Modern Women Symposium at The Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies, University of Maryland at College Park. In June/July 2007 I presented a paper and video project "Learning through Performance: An Approach to the Undergraduate Study of The Convent of Pleasure" for a Special Session on Teaching Margaret Cavendish at the International Margaret Cavendish Society Conference, University of Sheffield, UK. In November, 2006 I participated in the Attending to Early Modern Women Symposium with a workshop entitled "Early Modern Education: (Men) Teaching Women in Europe and the New World" in collaboration with Profs. Deborah Uman of St. John Fisher College and Belen Bistue of University of California-Davis. In April 2006 I directed a student cast in a performance of the Shakespeare Sonnet Performance project in Venable Theatre. In July, 2005 I traveled to the UK to present my paper "Bathsua Makin's Essay to Revive the Antient Education of Gentlewomen and the Writing of Four Early Modern Women" as a part of a panel on critical and pedagogical approaches to the writing of "professional" women writers of the 17th century at the "Still Kissing the Rod?" Conference on Early Modern Women's Writing at St. Hilda's College, Oxford University. At home on the MCLA campus, my presentation, "'Out Loud and On Your Feet': An Approach to Studying Shakespeare," premiering the Shakespeare portion of my documentary film project, was part of the Brown Bag Faculty Lecture Series. A short essay co-authored with Gweno K. Williams, "Drama by Early Modern Women: Text into Performance," a summary of our workshop, was published in Structures and Subjectivities: Attending to Early Modern Women 2003, co-edited by Adele Seef and Joan Hartman by University of Delaware Press in 2007.
My work has been recognized by the MCLA Faculty Association's Senior Faculty Award (2009); Faculty Creative Project Award, for film project documenting my methods of teaching Shakespeare (2007); and the Senior Class Faculty Appreciation Award (2006).