UMass Boston

Alexander Mueller

Department:
English
Title:
Grad Prog Dir/Assoc Professor
Location:
Wheatley Hall, Floor 06
Phone:
617.287.6723

Areas of Expertise

History of Rhetoric, History of the Book, Critical Pedagogy, Medieval Literature, Arthurian Romance

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

  • Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society (2020-21)
  • 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

Habitual Rhetoric: Digital Writing Before Digital Technology (book manuscript in progress)

Invited Talks

  • “Letter Writing without Letters: Guido delle Colonne and the Ars dictaminis,” Guido delle Colonne, une œuvre et sa reception dans l’Europe médiévale, colloque international, Université Paris, February 6, 2020
  • “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

  • “Decolonizing Arthurian Literature,” The National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, Online, October 30, 2021
  • “Blameth Nat Me,” New Chaucer Society Expo, Online, July 21, 2021
  • “Animals Becoming Animals: Robert Henryson’s ‘Taill of the Wolf and the Wedder,’” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 15, 2021
  • Co-presenter with Cheryl Nixon, “The Uninhibited Archive: Teaching Book History through Public Exhibition,” Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Seattle, Washington, January 9, 2020
  • “Julian of Norwich and the Affective Art of Amplification,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 11, 2019
  •  “Waking the Wordsmith: Ars dictaminis and Alliterative Verse,” International New Chaucer Society Congress, University of Toronto, Ontario, July 12, 2018
  •  “The Artisanal Arts of Rhetoric in Ashmole 61,” International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 10, 2018
  • “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 600: Letter Writing and Literature
  • ENGL 606: Books, Manuscripts, Libraries: Social Networking in the Scriptorium
  • ENGL 607: From Bologna to Blogosphere: A History of Written Correspondence
  • ENGL 607: History of the Book
  • ENGL 613: Teaching English with Technology
  • ENGL 630: Chaucer
  • ENGL 631: King Arthur
  • ENGL 697: Teaching Literature in Urban Settings

Undergraduate Courses

  • ENGL 105: Reading the University
  • ENGL 200: Understanding Literature: King Arthur
  • ENGL 200: Understanding Literature: Romancing the Tome
  • ENGL 201: Five British Authors: The Trojan War
  • ENGL 262G: The Art of Literature
  • ENGL 360: Arthurian Literature
  • ENGL 379: From Bologna to Blogosphere: A History of Written Correspondence
  • ENGL 381: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • ENGL 401: The Medieval Period
  • ENGL 440: History of the English Language
  • ENGL 449: Contemporary Issues in Teaching English
  • ENGL 450: Teaching Literature
  • ENGL 451: Teaching Writing
  • ENGL 452: Teaching English with Digital Technology
  • ENGL 464: Teaching Literature
  • ENGL 480: History of the Book

Professional Service

  • Book Review Editor, Arthuriana
  • President, New England Medieval Consortium (https://newenglandmedieval.org)

University Service

  • Co-Facilitator, Junior Faculty Research Seminar
  • Committee Member, English Department Graduate Program 
  • English Teaching Licensure Director
  • Core Bargaining Team Member, Faculty Staff Union

Exhibit

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

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