Approaches to Teaching The Song of Roland

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William W. Kibler, Leslie Zarker Morgan
Modern Language Association of America, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 317 pages
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The Song of Roland is a well-known hallmark of medieval French literature, yet students often read only excerpts and receive general introductions to the poem and its context. The challenges of teaching Roland include its age and subject matter, its form and composition in Old French, and its representation of Christians and Muslims. This volume in the MLA series Approaches to Teaching World Literature aims to help nonspecialist instructors teach Roland more comprehensively and to offer seasoned medievalists ways to invigorate their pedagogical tactics. Part 1, "Materials," surveys available editions, a wide range of secondary studies devoted to the poem, and electronic aids to teaching. Essays in part 2, "Approaches," elaborate on the poem's contexts, avatars, language techniques, and characters and episodes; describe the diverse classroom strategies that experienced instructors have implemented; and review the voluminous critical canon about the poem. The musical quality of the Song of Roland is vital for students to grasp. A compact disc accompanying the volume showcases reconstructions of sung performances of the Song of Roland in Old French. The examples offered here illuminate the rich quality of Roland's archaic language and demonstrate a few efforts to recover its lost music. Paired with performances of Roland are melodies used as models for singing the poem.

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