About UAlberta's Augustana Campus

Alakas---website-photo

Brandon Alakas

Assistant Professor/English

Augustana Campus | Arts

Humanities

About Me

Education

Ph.D., Queen's University
M.A., University of Toronto

I teach courses on classical and medieval literature and have written on medieval drama, Latin historiography, Shakespeare, and Thomas More. My current work examines devotional literature written immediately before the English Reformation. When not reading or writing about monks, I try to make time for my excessive number of hobbies, which include language learning, cooking, and running.

Research

Book

  • Whitford. Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges Very Necessary for the Helth of Mannes Soule. Eds. Brandon Alakas and Stephanie Morley. Liverpool: Liverpool UP. (In preparation)

Articles

  • "'In ye secret chambre of the mynde, in the preuy closet of the sowle’: Monastic Discipline and Devotion in More’s Life of Pico." Moreana (forthcoming)
  • "Scrupulosity and Heresy: William Bonde’s Reply to Evangelical views of Christian Freedom and Salvation in The Directory of Conscience." Continuity and Change. Papers from the Birgitta Conference at Dartington 2015. Eds Elin Andersson, Claes Gejrot, Eddie Jones and Mia Åkestam. Kungl. Vitterhets historie och antikvitetsakademien. Konferenser 94 (Stockholm, forthcoming).
  • "The very healthy food of monastic life’: John Whethamstede, Monastic Identity, and the Legacy of Claustral Reading." The American Benedictine Review 66.3 (2015): 303-24.
  • "Shakespeare’s Medievalism and the Life Removed: Depictions of Religious in Measure for Measure.” The Year’s Work in Medievalism 29 (2014): 2-12.
  • "'Closed and kept most surely in religion’: Richard Whitford, Monastic Culture, and the Regulation of Lay Piety." Renaissance and Reformation 36.1 (2013): 95-130.
  • "A Monastic Reformation of Domestic Space: Richard Whitford’s Werke for Householders.” Fifteenth-Century Studies 38 (2013): 1-19.
  • "Seniority and Mastery: The Politics of Ageism in the Coventry Cycle." Early Theatre 9.1 (2006): 15-36.



Teaching

Teaching Philosophy
Having in truth progressed in conversation… our hearts overflow with inexpressible delight…                                 
                                                                                                                                                      Benedict of Nursia
Through consensual inquiry, people are learning by “practicing obedience to truth”; that is, they are learning by listening and responding faithfully to each other and to the subject at hand.
                                                                                                                                                      Parker Palmer

The first step I take in inviting students to become part of a conversation about the text is to generate enthusiasm and curiosity about the material I teach. With information on almost any topic at students’ fingertips, the role of an effective instructor, as I see it, is to create a dynamic space for inquiry where students exchange and explore different ideas. At the start of each term, I tell my students that the class should be thought of as a conversation—both in the sense of an interchange of thoughts and in the older sense of sharing regular company with a group of people who gather in one space. This multidimensional word, whose roots run deep in western monasticism and which I have explored in my own research on medieval devotion, informs my teaching. In practice, in each of my courses I consciously aim to create a community of learners who build relationships with one another and who understand knowledge as a product of consensus, which is ongoing and whose vehicle is respectful dialogue.      

Courses Taught
I have taught a range of courses on medieval literature at Queen’s University and at the Royal Military College of Canada. Courses I have taught at Augustana include the following:

  • AUENG 450: The Arthurian Tradition
  • AUENG 225/325: The Middle Ages
  • AUENG 221/321: Chaucer
  • AUENG 220/320: Classical Foundations of Western Literature
  • AUENG 212/312: The English Language
  • AUENG 211/311: The History of the English Language
  • AUENG 104: English Literature from the Middle Ages to the Romantic Period
  • AUENG 103: English Literature from the Romantic Period to the Present