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Medieval Literature for Middle Grades

This course introduces the students to the great stories, ideas, and cast of characters that molded the literature of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation world. This class is paired with a corresponding Medieval History for Middle Grades class, taught by the same teacher, and scheduled back-to-back in a “block.” Students who take both courses receive a discount. Either course may also be taken as a stand-alone course. Because of this arrangement, and the nature of history and literature, there will necessarily be overlap between the two classes. This integrative experience of history and literature is one of the benefits of the classical model.

The literature section of the humanities block aims to introduce students to several of the “great books” of classical literature. Classes will consist of seminar-style discussions of the readings, with the instructor serving as the facilitator. The instructor may occasionally open class with a brief lecture on the author or historical background of a book. The goal is to encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation for the readings and their timeless truths through thoughtful dialogue on a book’s characters, plot, themes, and cultural context. Students are expected to participate actively in these discussions by formulating thoughtful questions and interacting with their peers.

Because the books studied are rich and complex, we could spend many classes plumbing the depths of these stories. However, given Scholé Academy’s focus on restful learning, this course is structured so as to give students a guided first taste of these classic works, consistent with the middle school level. It is assumed that this will not be the last time that students read books like Dante’s Divine Comedy, but that they pick them up again throughout their lives, with deeper understanding. The hope is that students come to love and appreciate these stories both as artifacts and as beautiful works of timeless art.

A tentative reading schedule will be provided at the beginning of the school year to give students and parents an idea of the kind of workload to expect. However, the instructor reserves the right to adjust the reading schedule throughout the year in order to maintain a deep, yet restful approach to learning in accordance with Scholé Academy learning philosophy.

Placement: Please read about our new process above.
This course is suitable for rising 7th–9th graders. Students are expected to have proficient reading and writing skills as well as the interest and capacity for engaging in discussion about literature and history. Students suited for this course will also be cultivating the following scholarship skills:

  • Actively and independently engage in note-taking
  • Apply teacher critiques
  • Adhere to deadlines
  • Be responsible for class and project preparedness
  • Take initiative to ask questions for understanding and comprehension

**How much time will students spend on homework? **
This varies by student according to his or her pace. However, students are generally assigned about 1.5–2.5 hours of reading each week. Additional time may be required to supplement the student’s own studying and paper or project development.

**How does this course compare to the upper-school medieval/Renaissance/Reformation literature course? **
The chief differences between the middle-school and upper-school levels for this course are noted below. While there will be some overlap of content taught, the upper-school course will be much more challenging and assume a more mature student with more background knowledge and greater reading, writing, and scholarship facility.

**How is faith integrated with these courses? **
These seminar-style discussions unfold organically. One could approach the texts with a focus on defensive critiques of classical authors. By contrast, we seek to read charitably. We treat classic authors as if they were friends, gleaning every available truth while also examining them from a robustly Christian perspective.

At Scholé Academy, we have carefully considered how we should engage our contemporary culture as those who believe that Christ is the Truth (John 14:6), and that all truth has its source in him. We think it is important to provide our upper school students (in grades 7-12) with tools and opportunities for critically examining various cultural trends, issues and mores through the lens of orthodox, Christian beliefs. Being confident in the truth revealed to us in creation, the Scriptures, and the tradition of the church, we are not afraid to follow the truth and its implications nor to address error and falsehood. … Read more about our Faith & Culture.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

Sections with Mr. Marchand:

  • Beowulf. Kevin Crossley-Hollan (Translator). New York: Oxford World Classics, 2008.
    • ISBN: 9780199555291
  • Mallory, Thomas. Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript (Oxford World’s Classics) Annotated Edition.
    • ISBN: 0199537348
  • Tolkien, J.R.R (Translator). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. William Morrow Paperbacks, 2021.
    • ISBN: 0358652979
  • The Divine Comedy. Dante. C.H. Sisson (translator). New York: Oxford World Classics, 2008.
    • ISBN: 978-0199535644.
    • NOTE: we will be reading portions of the three sections of The Divine Comedy rather than the entire work.
  • Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes. Edith Grossman (translator). Ecco (publisher), 2003.
    • ISBN: 978-0060188702 
    • NOTE: we will be reading portions of different sections of this work.
  • Hamlet: Oxford School Shakespeare. William Shakespeare. Oxford University Press, 2009. 
    • ISBN: 978-0198328704

Sections with Mrs. Shaltanis:

Chris Marchand (pronounced mar-shan) is a music pastor and priest within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), serving in Peoria, Illinois. He holds a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Arts in Music Ministry from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, and was trained as a hospital chaplain in a residency program at Saint Francis Hospital. A former headmaster and teacher at Aletheia Classical Christian School, he has taught humanities, history, science, and government courses. He is married to Elisa and they have four children. The author of Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas: a guide for churches and families, he also produces podcasts, composes music, and loves to discuss anything related the arts and his favorite sport tennis.

Phaedra Shaltanis, Chair of the Humanities Department, has taught in private and classical schools for over 25 years and has educated her four children in the classical tradition, which has been the monumental joy of her life. After college graduation, she began teaching high school Writing, Literature, Spanish, and Art in classical schools. Her involvement with Scholé Academy includes teaching American Literature, British Literature, Western History, Rhetoric I, Formal Logic and Well-Ordered Language Levels 1 and 2. She is enthused to serve as the Humanities department chair and appreciates guiding parents and teachers toward restful education. In her Dallas community, she currently directs a high school university-model program, trains and mentors teachers, conducts seminars on classical education, builds curriculum, supports parents, and provides fine art instruction at a classical high school. She and her husband hope to support classical education as avenues present themselves.

Caeli Lanzilotti lives in Northern VA with her husband and two-year-old son. She is passionate about the Liberal Arts and pursuing a life fully realized. She has taught Ancient, American, and World Literature to 9th-12th graders in a private school setting for the past six years. Before moving to VA, she taught Middle School Literature-History, English grammar, and Religion for six years at a small classical school near Philadelphia. She loves the classical model of education, and she is deeply indebted to her former students and colleagues from whom and with whom she has learned so much about the virtuous life. She holds an MA in teaching and a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy. For leisure, she loves trail running and hiking in the woods with her husband, swimming, and baking.

Quarter 1

  1. Nordic Myths
    1. Research and exploration
    2. Common themes in mythology
  2. Beowulf
    1. Character development
    2. Heroes and villains
    3. Response Questions, close reading

Quarter 2

  1. The Song of Roland
    1. Legends vs history
    2. Chivalric Code
  2. Le Morte d’Artur (The Death of Arthur)
  3. Glimpses into British history (Geoffrey of Monmouth)
  4. Canterbury Tales (brief excerpts)
    1. Elements of medieval poetry
  5. Folklore
    1. Personal Pilgrimage Prologue

Quarter 3

  1. The Divine Comedy (excerpts)
    1. Exploring translations
    2. Quest literature
    3. Allegory
  2. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
    1. Comparison exercises

Quarter 4

  1. Don Quixote
    1. Response questions
  2. Hamlet (Intro to Shakespeare)
    1. Comprehension questions
    2. Vocabulary studies
    3. Writing exercises
    4. Dramatic interpretation
  3. Literature Portfolio

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.


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