Brandon Alakas, PhD

Associate Professor, Augustana - Fine Arts & Humanities

Contact

Associate Professor, Augustana - Fine Arts & Humanities
Email
alakas@ualberta.ca
Phone
(780) 679-1124
Address
3-20 Founders' Hall
4901-46 Ave
Camrose AB
T4V 2R3

Overview

Area of Study / Keywords

Medieval Studies Devotional Literature Medieval Piety Syon Abbey Religious Culture Animal Studies Ecocriticism


About

Education

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

Major Research Awards

  • SSHRC Insight Grant (2022): The Readers’ Reformation: Women’s Literacy, Private Devotion, and Richard Whitford’s Spiritual Instruction
  • Augustana Faculty Research Award (2022)
  • SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2016): "Good cownsell for an erroneous conscyence": William Bonde, Lutheran Polemic, and Orthodox Reform in the Late Middle Ages

Research

My current research focuses on devotional literature written during the first half of the sixteenth century. I am especially interested in the way that various communities used these texts to articulate and promote a distinctive spirituality and corporate identity. I also work on medieval animal studies, Latin literature, and medieval drama.

Research

Book

  • Richard Whitford's Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges Very Necessary for the Helth of Mannes Soule. Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2020. Introduction co-authored with Stephanie Morley.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Richard Whitford’s Humanism and Monastic Renewal: Birgittine Spirituality and the New Learning in The Pype, or Tonne, of the Lyfe of Perfection,” Sixteenth Century Journal (forthcoming)  
  • "Delightful Fruits and Bitter Weeds: Textual Consumption and Spiritual Identity in The Orcherd of Syon." Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures 48.1 (2022): 45-67.
  • “Devotion in Exile: A Looking Glace for the Religious and the Preservation of the Birgittine Community of Syon Abbey.” Viator 50:1 (2019; published 2020): 289-315.
  • "Francis’s Animal Brotherhood in Thomas of Celano’s Vita Prima." (Co-authored with Day Bulger). postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 11.1 (2020): 23-32.
  • “Resignation or Rebuttal?: Three Biblical Exempla in Richard Whitford’s Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges,” Late Medieval Devotional Compilations in England. Eds. Marleen Cré, Diana Denissen and Denis Renevey. Brepols, 2020, 271-88.
  • "'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  54.1 (2017): 86-107.
  • "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 93, 2017, 251-267.
  • "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

Major Teaching Awards

  • Provost’s Award for Early Achievement of Excellence in Teaching - University of Alberta (2017)
  • The Augustana Faculty Early Achievement of Excellence in Teaching Award - University of Alberta (2016)

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:

  • AUCLA 294: Classical Studies Tour in Greece and Sicily
  • AUENG 450: The Arthurian Tradition
  • AUENG 260: Creatures of Text: Literary Animal Studies
  • AUENG 225: The World of the Middle Ages
  • AUENG 221: Chaucer and Premodern Society
  • AUENG 220: 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
  • AUENG 102: Critical Reading, Critical Writing - Reading the Environment
  • AUIDS 101: The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters



Courses

AUCLA 294 - Selected Topics in Classical Studies Tour

Study tour of ancient sites from the classical world. The focus and content of each course are determined by student and faculty interests and may vary with different course offerings. Note: Tour costs are the responsibility of the student. Requires payment of additional student instructional support fees. Refer to the Tuition and Fees page in the University Regulations section of the Calendar.


AUENG 102 - Critical Reading, Critical Writing

English 102 has two objectives. The first is to train students in the practices of analytical reading and critical thinking. To that end, we will read engaging literary texts in several genres. The second objective is to help students develop effective communication skills, particularly their writing abilities. To develop writing techniques, we will workshop grammatical skills which will provide the necessary building blocks for university-level writing. Prerequisite: ELA 30-1 or AUENG 101.


AUENG 260 - Literary Animal Studies

A survey of representations of nonhuman animals in texts ranging from sacred literature to scientific writing that explores humanity's evolving relationship with our fellow creatures. Texts will be drawn from a variety of genres and periods, including poetry and prose from antiquity, biblical texts, medieval romance and devotional literature, early modern philosophical and scientific treatises, and more contemporary writing with direct links to the modern animal rights movement. Readings from theorists of animal studies and ecofeminism will guide our exploration of texts and the questions they raise about our connections with nonhuman animals. Prerequisites: AUENG 102.


AUENG 450 - Selected Topics in English Studies

Advanced study of selected authors, works, periods, and critical approaches. Focus and content of each course are determined by student and faculty interests, and vary from year to year. Prerequisites: Third-year standing.


AUIDS 101 - First Year Seminar

Selected topics that highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the Liberal Arts and Sciences. This seminar-style class is the first course in Augustana's Core. The focus and content of each course are determined by faculty interests, and vary from year to year.


Browse more courses taught by Brandon Alakas

Publications

"Delightful Fruits and Bitter Weeds: Textual Consumption and Spiritual Identity in The Orcherd of Syon."

Author(s): B. Alakas
Publication Date: 3/1/2022
Publication: Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures
Volume: 48
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 45-67
External Link: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/844339

“Resignation or Rebuttal?: Three Biblical Exempla in Richard Whitford’s Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges.”

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 7/1/2020
Volume: Late Medieval Devotional Compilations in England. Eds. Marleen Cré, Diana Denissen and Denis Renevey. Brepols
Page Numbers: 271-88
External Link: http://www.brepols.net/Pages/ShowProduct.aspx?prod_id=IS-9782503574776-1

Richard Whitford's Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges Very Necessary for the Helth of Mannes Soule

Author(s): Brandon Alakas (Introduction co-authored with Stephanie Morley)
Publication Date: 7/1/2020
Volume: Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2020.
Page Numbers: 224
External Link: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/id/52662/

"Francis’s Animal Brotherhood in Thomas of Celano’s Vita Prima."

Author(s): Brandon Alakas and Day Bulger
Publication Date: 5/1/2020
Volume: postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 11.1
Page Numbers: 23-32
External Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41280-020-00153-0

“Devotion in Exile: A Looking Glace for the Religious and the Preservation of the Birgittine Community of Syon Abbey.”

Author(s): B. Alakas
Publication Date: 2019
Publication: Viator
Volume: 50
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 289-315
DOI: 10.1484/J.VIATOR.5.121364
External Link: https://www.brepolsonline.net/doi/abs/10.1484/J.VIATOR.5.121364

"Scrupulosity and Heresy: William Bonde’s Reply to Evangelical views of Christian Freedom and Salvation in The Directory of Conscience."

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 7/5/2017
Volume: Continuity and Change. Papers from the Birgitta Conference at Dartington 2015. Eds Elin Andersson, Claes Gejrot, Eddie Jones and Mia Åkestam.
Issue: Konferenser 94, 2017
Page Numbers: 251-267

"'In ye secret chambre of the mynde, in the preuy closet of the sowle’: Monastic Discipline and Devotion in More’s Life of Pico."

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 7/1/2017
Volume: Moreana 54.1
Page Numbers: 86-107
External Link: https://www.euppublishing.com/loi/more?expanded=vmore-54%20(Number%20207)&expanded=vmore-54%20(Number%20208)

“‘The very healthy food of monastic life’: John Whethamstede, Monastic Identity, and the Legacy of Claustral Reading.”

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 2015
Publication: The American Benedictine Review
Volume: 66
Issue: 3
Page Numbers: 303-24

“A Monastic Reformation of Domestic Space: Richard Whitford’s Werke for Householders.”

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 2013
Publication: Fifteenth-Century Studies
Volume: 38
Page Numbers: 1-19

“‘Closed and kept most surely in religion’: Richard Whitford, Monastic Culture, and the Regulation of Lay Piety”

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 2013
Publication: Renaissance and Reformation
Volume: 36
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 95-130

“Seniority and Mastery: The Politics of Ageism in the Coventry Cycle”

Author(s): Brandon Alakas
Publication Date: 2006
Publication: Early Theatre
Volume: 9
Issue: 1
Page Numbers: 15-36