The seminar will focus on "The Old French Fabliaux and the Medieval Sense of the Comic."
Beidler is particularly interested in the Old French fabliaux—short comic tales in verse—because of their influence on Chaucer, the most important early British writer. Chaucer is known to have read French literature and to have transformed some of its characters and plots into his own considerably longer tales, says Beidler, who will be teaching a graduate seminar at Lehigh this fall on medieval comedy. In that course, he will draw directly from some of the work he will do at Yale this summer.
The summer seminars and institutes are funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide college and university faculty members and independent scholars an opportunity to enrich and revitalize their understanding of significant humanities ideas, texts and topics.
Beidler, the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English, has been teaching at Lehigh for 36 years. He has won nearly every teaching award granted at Lehigh, has participated in several earlier Summer Institutes funded through the NEH, including one at Yale on "Boccaccio’s Fiction," and one at Columbia University on "Chaucer in the Twentieth Century." He also earned a post-doctoral fellowship to study Native American life and literature at the University of Arizona in 1973-74.
Beidler is the recipient of the 1983 National Professor of the Year award granted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation, and the 1988 Alumni Life Achievement Award from Earlham College. From 1995 to 1996, he served as the Robert Foster Cherry Distinguished Professor, an award that is given after a national search and that involves a year of teaching in residence at Baylor University.
Earlier in his career, Beidler served as a Fulbright Professor at Sichuan University in the People’s Republic of China, and as a research professor at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.
He is the author or co-author of 16 books, and has written more than 100 articles and book chapters on topics that range from medieval literature to American and Native American literature to pedagogy. One of his books, Why I Teach, has been translated into eight languages and is required reading for 2 million students at 1,900 colleges in China.