My Amazing Students: Creativity that Heals, Provokes, and Amuses

Katrina’s hilarious and super smart social media exchanges between Abelard and Heloise convulsed the class in giggles

My Amazing Students did it again–totally impressed me with projects and writings I never could imagined save for their brilliance! I was touched by my student Elizabeth’s point concerning her short story, “Revelation”: “The main driving force of this creative project was my desire to see women’s experiences used as an authoritative tool to heal Christine” (her heroine). I think reading medieval women’s writing from the Middle Ages can be healing for all.

Tess created a clever and deeply imagined board game called “A Medieval Women’s Quest.”

Alexandra presenting. Everyone was amazed by her beautiful work and her cogent explanation.

Alexandra made beautifully intricate artwork about giving birth to illustrate (literally) the beauty of labor and to redeem Eve, as so many of our writers were determined to do.

Her works included what she called a misogynist portrayal of childbirth, a chaotic storm of grey and read. This contrasted with a gorgeous drawing of a woman, her child, and a helping angel. Finally, an oil painting as a tile (almost a stained glass window) of the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, and afterbirth to show how Mary is like normal women. Beautiful work!

Not everything was serious. You can follow @ThePeterAbelard and see part of Katrina’s hilarious take on Abelard and Heloise’s social media exchange. She even created a Linked In account for him!

Abelard being squished by Lady Fortune’s wheel

Lady Fortune showed up a few times. Brooke chose to make her own Wheel of Fortune, with options including a fully paid for pilgrimage. But Aisha chose to sculpt Lady Fortune with some winners–and losers (I’m looking at you, Peter Abelard!).

Lindsey and her book

Lindsey wrote a same-sex lai [short romance] inspired by Marie de France and the trobairitz Bieiris. The style for her lai was just perfect, ideally recreating Marie’s style in modern English prose.

Bianca smartly discovered how medieval women’s writings resonate with contemporary medieval games like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and BioShock Infinite. She wove together information about the games and writings we studied, most especially those by Christine de Pizan. Now I can’t wait to play these games!

Christine de Pizan in Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”

Anna crafted a menu for a dinner inspired by these amazing women. Now I can’t wait to eat some of the delicious courses she fashioned. A lot of thought went into pondering who would be a salad and who the dessert!

Arden “discovered” some long-lost writings by Christine de Pizan. Luckily, Michael’s pulled through and inspired her lovely craftswomanship.

One student, Sarah, sang Dido’s last aria from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas since Dido is such a key figure for medieval women writers. Here she is. The class was enthralled!


These are the words for Dido’s song.






Another student created her own blogsite of Marie de France’s lais. Josephine’s idea was that if Marie lived today, she’d be talking about her friends’ love lives on a blog.

My survey class (British Literature until 1785) also did some creative projects. Vincent rapped about a corrupt cop, basing his work on Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale. When we all heard it in class, we all insisted on being invited to his concert when he makes it big!!


Jessica and her lovely children’s book that sums up the British Literature Survey with many pages!
Kayla and her richly symbolic painting drawing on Paradise Lost, Ooronoko, and other works in our class, even Sir Gawain and the Green Knight!

If you are a teacher, I recommend giving students the option to do a creative project instead of a research paper, especially if they have already written a number of papers for you. It can be even more work than a regular assignment, but it’s richly rewarding for the student to make the material you share her own. Here are more of Jessica’s wonderful pages from her book. You could try reading it–or making your own.

Of course there has to be information about the famous author!

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