Brandon Alakas, PhD
Pronouns: he, him, his
Associate Professor, Augustana - Fine Arts & Humanities
- (780) 679-1124
3-20 Founders' Hall
4901-46 AveCamrose ABT4V 2R3
Area of Study / Keywords
Medieval Studies Devotional Literature Medieval Piety Syon Abbey Religious Culture Animal Studies Ecocriticism
- 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
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.
- 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.
- "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.
- “Devotion in Exile: A Looking Glace for the Religious and the Preservation of the Birgittine Community of Syon Abbey.” Viator 50:1 (2019): 289-315.
- "'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.
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)
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.
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.
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 401: Advanced Integrative Project - Cultivating Community Connections
- AUIDS 101: The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters
AUENG 220 - Classical Foundations of Western Literature
Offers a survey of Classical Greek and Latin literature in translation from the preHomeric period up to late antiquity. This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of major classical texts that shaped European and British literature from the Middle Ages to the present. Close attention will be paid to the evolution of genres, such as the epic, the lyric, satire, and tragedy. Prerequisites: AUENG 102. Note: Credit may be obtained for only one of AUENG 220, 320 (2021), AUCLA 220 (2021), 320 (2021).
AUENG 225 - The World of the Middle Ages
A survey of texts written between the eighth and fifteenth centuries that explores a variety of social issues and the emergence of national identities. Major themes discussed include notions of the monstrous in medieval literature, female identity within chivalric culture, the nature of late medieval subjectivity, female authority, the evolution of private religious devotion, and European identity in the face of a growing awareness of the wider world. Prerequisites: AUENG 102. Note: Not to be taken by students with credit in AUENG 325 (2021).
"Delightful Fruits and Bitter Weeds: Textual Consumption and Spiritual Identity in The Orcherd of Syon."
Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures. 2022 March; 48 (1):45-67
“Resignation or Rebuttal?: Three Biblical Exempla in Richard Whitford’s Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges.”
2020 July; Late Medieval Devotional Compilations in England. Eds. Marleen Cré, Diana Denissen and Denis Renevey. Brepols
Richard Whitford's Dyuers Holy Instrucyons and Teachynges Very Necessary for the Helth of Mannes Soule
Brandon Alakas (Introduction co-authored with Stephanie Morley)
2020 July; Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2020.
Brandon Alakas and Day Bulger
2020 May; postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies 11.1
“Devotion in Exile: A Looking Glace for the Religious and the Preservation of the Birgittine Community of Syon Abbey.”
Viator. 2019 January; 50 (1): 289-315 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."
2017 July; Continuity and Change. Papers from the Birgitta Conference at Dartington 2015. Eds Elin Andersson, Claes Gejrot, Eddie Jones and Mia Åkestam. (Konferenser 94, 2017):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."
2017 July; Moreana 54.1
“‘The very healthy food of monastic life’: John Whethamstede, Monastic Identity, and the Legacy of Claustral Reading.”
The American Benedictine Review. 2015 January; 66 (3):303-24
Fifteenth-Century Studies. 2013 January; 38
“‘Closed and kept most surely in religion’: Richard Whitford, Monastic Culture, and the Regulation of Lay Piety”
Renaissance and Reformation. 2013 January; 36 (1):95-130
Early Theatre. 2006 January; 9 (1):15-36