E 376 • Chaucer
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
This course serves as an introduction to one of the three most important poets in the English traditionChaucer, Shakespeare and Miltonand the earlier form of the English language in which he composed through an intensive reading of his most famous poem, The Canterbury Tales. Focusing exclusively on the reading and interpretation of the stories that make up this unfinished medieval tale collection, this course operates in terms of some medieval scribal practices: copying, translating, memorizing, and glossing passages as part of a classroom commentary tradition. Rehearsing some of these original practices in our post-modern classroom, we will investigate the clerical, courtly, and intellectual culture in and about which Chaucer writes in both serious and comic forms. In reading Chaucer's story collection, we will pay particular attention to the medieval veneration of "old bookes," noting throughout the semester the various ways Chaucers book looks toward and depends upon other texts for its significance. We will also perform some book veneration of our own by visiting the HRC, where we will see medieval manuscripts of Chaucers Canterbury Tales in the flesh - literally, on the vellum (sheepskin) on which they were written and in facsimile as we work to recapture something of late medieval textual culture before the advent of print. We will also take some time to look at the transmission and development of Chaucers works by looking at translations, popular serializations, and adaptations of the Canterbury Tales in modern culture.
Three in-class examinations: 20% each Final Examination: 30% Class preparation and participation (including any in-class assignments): 10%
The Canterbury Tales, complete. Ed. Larry D. Benson, et. al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. either: Derek Pearsall, The Canterbury Tales. Routledge, 1994, 1996. or Helen Cooper, Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales. 2nd ed. OUP, 1996.5