Faculty & Staff

Alex Mueller, PhD

Associate Professor of English, College of Liberal Arts
Director, English Teacher Licensure

Contact

photo of Alex Mueller

Areas of Expertise

Literature pedagogy, digital rhetoric, medieval literature, Arthurian romance, book history

Degrees

PhD, University of Minnesota

Professional Publications & Contributions

Additional Information

As a medievalist and digital pedagogy specialist, my work traces the public life of the English language within educational environments. During the Middle Ages, students and teachers worked from common books – often containing the Trojan texts of Virgil and Ovid – inscribed with Latin and vernacular marginalia that had been accumulating over time. The schoolbooks that survive from this era are so excessively overrun with glosses that it is often difficult to distinguish the texts from their commentaries. My work examines this sharing of textual space, which reflects an emphasis on collaborative and multilingual constructions of knowledge.

My research and teaching are attempts to apply the spirit of open-sourcing – the free sharing of computing source code – to the collection and dissemination of knowledge produced within the academy. The massive proliferation of social networks like Twitter and Facebook have demonstrated the power that digital compilations can wield, seemingly with little help from credentialed experts in higher education. Rather than turn to university-trained specialists for reliable information, the public is increasingly investing in the collective intelligence of the crowd, which digital databases such as Wikipedia are harnessing outside of the classroom with success never witnessed before. Yet, the same core principles of open access, free use, and collaborative generosity that inform these online projects have always been central to the work of the academy, even if they are sometimes hidden beneath the veneers of disciplinary specialization and avuncular elitism. Through my own research and teaching, I seek to peel back or make transparent these layers of exclusion to encourage a para-academic culture that interrogates and values the contributions of all parties, both inside and outside of the university.

Awards

Corpus Christi College Exchange Fellow, University of Oxford (2017-18)
Visiting Scholar in Medieval Studies, Harvard University (2017)
Gilbert and Ursula Farfel Fellow, Huntington Library, California (2015-16)
Special Collections Visiting Scholar, University of St Andrews, Scotland (2014)

Current Project

“Cybermedieval Rhetoric: A Prehistory of Digital Writing”
“The Sovereignty of Style: Middle English Arts of Rhetoric”

Invited Talks

“Guido’s Sovereignty of Style: The Rhetorical Time of Lydgate’s Troy Book,” Trojan Temporalities: Constructing Hybrid Antiquities in Medieval Troy Narratives, International Workshop, Freie Universität Berlin, September 2, 2017

“Waking the Wordsmith: Alliterative Verse and Letter Writing in Late Medieval Oxford,” Harvard Medieval Studies Workshop, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 24, 2017

“Convertible Texts and Reflexive Remixing: Robert Henryson’s Fruit, Flowers, and Fabular Theft,” Medieval Writing Workshop, University of Colorado, Boulder, October 11, 2014

“John Trevisa’s Public Pedagogy,” Center for Medieval Studies 25th Anniversary Conference: Teaching and Learning in the Middle Ages, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, November 9, 2013

“Aesopic Mashups in the Early Age of Print,” History of the Book Symposium, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, October 26, 2013       
  
“Open-Source Aesopica: Robert Henryson and the elegiac Romulus,” Harvard Medieval English Colloquium, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 24, 2013    
   
“Friending Cicero: The Art of Letter Writing in Late Medieval England,” Medieval Writing Workshop, University of Wisconsin, Madison, September 28, 2013

Conference Presentations

“Aesop’s Body: The Book as Corpus and Locus,” Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 7, 2017

“Jack Spicer’s Grail in the Boston Public Library,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 14, 2016

“The Modern Grail: Insider Tips from Search Committees to Land That Academic Job,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 12, 2016   

“Annotation and Open Review,” Digital Britain: New Approaches to the Early Middle Ages, Harvard University, Cambridge, March 26, 2016

“The New Open Access Environment: Innovation in Research, Editing, and Publishing,” Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, January 10, 2016

“Knights Who Write: Teaching Arthurian Literature through Role Play,” Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, January 9, 2016 

Courses Taught

Graduate Courses

ENGL 697 Teaching Literature in Urban Settings
ENGL 631 King Arthur
ENGL 630 Chaucer
ENGL 613 Teaching English with Technology
ENGL 611 Teaching Literature
ENGL 607 From Bologna to Blogosphere: A History of Written Correspondence
English 607 History of the Book
English 600 Letter Writing and Literature
ENGL 606 Books, Manuscripts, Libraries: Social Networking in the Scriptorium

Undergraduate Courses

English 480 History of the Book
English 464 Teaching Literature
ENGL 449 Contemporary Issues in Teaching English
ENGL 440 History of the English Language
English 401 The Medieval Period
ENGL 381 Geoffrey Chaucer
ENGL 379 From Bologna to Blogosphere: A History of Written Correspondence
ENGL 360 Arthurian Literature
ENGL 262G The Art of Literature
English 201 Five British Authors: The Trojan War
ENGL 200 Understanding Literature: King Arthur
ENGL 200 Understanding Literature: Romancing the Tome

Professional Service

Book Review Editor, Arthuriana

University Service

Co-Facilitator, Junior Faculty Research Seminar
Committee Member, English Department Graduate Program 

Grants

Special Collections Visiting Scholarship, University of St Andrews, Scotland (2014) 

with Scott Maisano. "Academic Commentary 2.0." Sustained Mentoring of Undergraduate Research Grant, University of Massachusetts Boston (2014)

Northeast Modern Language Association Summer Fellowship (2013)

Exhibit

"Purloined Letters: Literary Correspondence and its Unintended Recipients." Boston Public Library. October 2014-January 2015.