Dr. Mariah Cooper
I am a 5th year PhD Candidate of medieval gender and sexuality, specializing in the representations of sexual violence in medieval English trial documents, law codes, and Middle English romance literature. I came to Acadia University in September 2021 after living in St. John’s Newfoundland (although I am originally from Ontario). I completed my undergraduate degree in History and Geography at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario), during which time I completed a year abroad studying and living in Canterbury, Kent, England. While at the University of Kent, I received a Specialized Diploma in History. I then went to Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) to complete my Bachelor of Education in Intermediate/Senior grades. I quickly realized that I wanted to continue my studies in medieval history and enrolled in the MA program at Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John’s, Newfoundland). After completing my MA, I stayed at Memorial to complete my doctoral thesis.
My research is broadly focused on issues of gender, sexual violence, and notions of “consent” in twelfth to fourteenth-century England. By looking at legal documents and contemporaneous fictional literature, I try to explore the history from below; that is, ordinary people who have often been ignored from historical study.
I am also interested in teaching about concepts related to late medieval notions of race, monstrosity, and othering, in the broadest sense of those terms. Crime and social control, queer histories, and popular (mis)representations of the Middle Ages today are just a few of the other topics I enjoy teaching.
TEACHING PHILOSOPHY AND PEDAGOGY
My teaching philosophy is centered around exposing the relevancy of the historical past to my students. Regardless of the course I am teaching, I always aim to make the course content relevant to today, and to help myself and my students think about “how we got here.” In doing so, I aim to empower my students to become curious about the historical past, giving them the space to personally engage with the curriculum.
As an educator, I expect my students to not simply learn the course curriculum but more importantly, to learn the valuable skills in thinking like a historian. I work to develop students’ skills on how to approach a historical topic from a scholarly perspective, including source analysis as well as critical historical reading and writing skills. It is my goal that students are not only able to contextualize the historical past, but to answer the “so what” question – why does this matter? That deep level of critical thinking is embedded in my assignments and lecture material.
My teaching methods include both lecture and discussion-based learning, which is only able to be done by getting to know my students personally. I try to foster a collaborative learning environment and encourage student participation and engagement.