E 376 • Chaucer
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
This course serves as an introduction to the poet Geoffrey Chaucer and to the medieval society in which he lived through a careful reading of his most famous work, The Canterbury Tales. 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 Chaucer's "book" looks toward and depends upon other texts for its significance. We will also perform some book veneration of our own through a trip to the HRC where we will see medieval manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the flesh--literally, on the vellum (sheepskin) on which they were written--and in facsimile.
Reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales requires learning Middle English, and much of the first few weeks of class will be devoted to acquiring the necessary language skills. Therefore, attendance, preparation, and participation are not simply recommended but mandatory. Quizzes will be unannounced and will not be able to be made up. Excessive absences will seriously affect your preparation/participation grade. More than three unexcused absences will result in your final grade for the course being lowered by a full letter and may result in course failure.
Also available for order from me are cassette tapes of the individual tales. Most cost $5. I will place an order during the second week of class. You may order as many tapes as you like, but I recommend that you get at least one to help you with Middle English pronunciation, which in turn will help your reading comprehension generally.
Three writing assignments: one 3-4-page textual analysis; one 6-page comparative extension & revisionary assignment; a final 7-8-page "open" essay requiring development of original idea = 50% of the course grade.
Midterm exam 15%
Final exam 25%
Classroom performance 10%
Papers are due in class on assigned days; late papers are penalized three points per day inclusive. No extensions or make-up examinations without a written medical excuse.
The Canterbury Tales Complete, ed. Larry D Benson, Houghton Mifflin, 2001
The Canterbury Tales, Derek Pearsall, Routledge, 1995
One cassette tape from the Chaucer Studio (to be purchased in class)