E 376 • Chaucer
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
It is CHAUCER who is "the inventor of the human"! Even Harold Bloom, who has invented the label and stuck it on Shakespeare, concedes or almost concedes that Chaucer deserves it! If to be "human" is to be aware that your point of view is just that, your point of view, if to be human is to play roles and to have a sense of irony about the roles you play, if to be human is to fool yourself, and know that you are fooling yourself, if to be human is to be at a loss for words, and yet to communicate what you have lost the words for, if to be human is to be sardonic and idealistic, certain and in doubt, inviting and insulting, wrong and right all at the same time, then Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims are triumphantly human, and Chaucer's invention of them is a landmark in the history of our self-understanding.
Your course grade will be no lower than the average of your eight papers (six of them revisable).
The course will take up the General Prologue and several of the Canterbury Tales, read (with plentiful assistance) in Chaucer's own English, from The Riverside Chaucer.