Professor Illuminates Medieval Literature

September 27, 2010

Sara Lynn McCall

Professor Illuminates Medieval Literature


VALDOSTA -- Dr. Maren Clegg-Hyer’s passion for and knowledge of medieval literature is enough to inspire even the most indifferent, clock-watching students. The assistant professor of English has been teaching for about 17 years, the past three of which have been guiding VSU undergraduates through epic prose.

“I fell in love with medieval English literature as an undergraduate in my first medieval survey course,” said Hyer, who developed her love for the written word as a child. “I found medieval literature to be fascinating, and I still do.”

Hyer recently finished editing a book, “The Material Culture of Daily Living in the Anglo-Saxon World,” which details the daily activities and technologies of Anglo-Saxons. Each chapter, written by a different scholar, explains some of the references of daily life in Old English literature and archaeology. In addition to writing the book’s introduction, Hyer also co-wrote a chapter about textiles and textile imagery.

“We’ve forgotten a lot of the important basics about how Anglo-Saxons lived their lives, and that makes a difference in understanding what they wrote,” Hyer said.

The Classical Languages Club advisor said evaluating ancient literature helps students gain a satisfying perspective about their own lives and impact on the world. She enjoys watching the text come to life before the students’ eyes as they develop connections with authors of old and the subjects about which they write.

“The people who wrote the literature we read now were real people who cared about a lot of the same things we do -- love, life, and family -- and faced many of the same life challenges and ethical dilemmas that we face,” said Hyer, who serves as VSU’s Community Partner in Education for Hahira Elementary and Middle schools.

When she leaves the classroom, her life does anything but slow down. The Cub and Boy Scouts volunteer jokingly refers to herself as the household “taxi driver” -- particularly for her teenage son, who plays in the Lowndes High School marching band.

In rare moments of free time, Hyer said she likes to travel and spend time outdoors with her family. Her zest of the written word has rubbed off on her three boys, with whom she regularly turns pages. Hyer said she wouldn’t trade her busy life -- filled with books, teaching and family fun -- for anything.