Rethinking the Coverage Model in the History of the English Language Course (roundtable), Kalamazoo IMC 2018

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Medieval Association of the Midwest
contact email: 

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, MI

May 10-13, 2018

Compressing 1500 years of English language history into a 14 week semester poses no shortage of challenges. Not only does the traditional History of the English Language (HEL) course aim to impart foundational knowledge from a range of disciplines—linguistics, geography, social and political history, grammar, and literature—but the dominant, content-dense textbooks presuppose copious knowledge with which many students—especially North American students—have limited familiarity. This roundtable panel aims to reassess the coverage model in the HEL course and to examine the efficacy of innovative approaches to teaching Old English, Middle English, and Early Modern English as part of a History of English Language curriculum.

In “The End of the History Survey Course: The Rise and Fall of the Coverage Model” (2011) Joel Sipriss & David Voelker historicize the academic debate about the merits and limitations of the “default” coverage model, a model which privileges content knowledge and facts over disciplinary methods and critical thinking. With arguments that may productively be applied to the HEL course, Sipriss and Voelker argue for the need to “dislodge the coverage model.” To that end, papers are invited that do the following: propose innovative pedagogies for HEL; present alternatives to (or decreasing reliance on) textbooks; discuss experiments with non-chronological sequencing; explore ways to incorporate role-playing or other interactive pedagogies; address approaches that shift the balance of pre-modern to modern, or British to non-British Englishes; share strategies for implementing/introducing digital resources, etc.

Proposals for presentations of no more than 10 minutes should be sent to Audrey Becker ( no later than Sept. 10, 2017. Proposals should be accompanied by the Participant Information Form, available at

Those who are not currently members of the Medieval Association of the Midwest are welcome to submit to sessions sponsored by the MAM but are expected to join ($25) upon acceptance.