This course introduces some of Chaucer's writings. All the lectures, class presentations, discussions, and reports will be in English.
All students must prepare for the discussions in weeks 3, 4, 5. From Week 6, a few students will prepare class presentations. These must present the student's own thoughts and opinions about the tale. Each presentation should last 8 - 10 minutes, neither more nor less. Quotations from 3 critical studies should only be introduced in the later part. Begin "While I was reading ... for the first time, I kept thinking ... but on re-reading ..."
March 5-10 Week 2 English society and literature at the time
The English Romances: King Horn, Havelok, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Piers Plowman.
March 12-17 Week 3 Backgrounds to Chaucer: Boethius. Le Roman de la Rose.
Discuss how best to read (understand) Chaucer's The Book of the Duchess
March 19-24 Week 4 The Italian literary backgrounds: Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio.
Discuss how best to read (understand) Chaucer's The House of Fame.
March 26-31 Week 5 Troilus and Criseyde. (Extracts with summary: Books 1-3, Books 4-5)
What is the role of love in this story? Why does Chaucer focus on the theme of happiness?
April 2-7 Week 6 The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (Text with notes) (General Introduction)
How far should the portraits be seen as social stereotypes? as individuals? Are they satirical?
April 9-14 Week 7 The Knight's Tale (Full text) (Abbreviated text for class)
What is the role of the pagan setting? What vision of love and of human life is expressed?
April 16-21 Week 8 The Miller's Tale (Text) (General Introduction)
To what extent and in what ways is this tale a response to the Knight? Is it a good story?
April 23-28 Week 9 The Nun's Priest's Tale (Text) (Article) (General Introduction)
In what ways can this tale be read? Why is it told in the way it is?
April 30-May 5 Week 10 (No Class)
May 7-12 Week 11 The Wife of Bath : Prologue and Tale (General Introduction)
What is the relationship between medieval Anti-feminism and this text? Between the Prologue and the Tale?
May 14-19 Week 12 The Clerk : Prologue and Tale
How is this horrible story to be understood? What different ways of reading it are proposed by the text?
May 21-26 Week 13 The Pardoner's Introduction, Prologue and Tale (General Introduction)
How can such a horrible man preach such a moral sermon? What is the relation between teller and Tale?
May 28-June 2 Week 14 The Nun's Tale
How is this tale related to the others we have seen? Discuss the role of this, the Parson's Tale, the Retraction.
June 4-9 Week 15 The rest of the Tales (each student to talk briefly about another tale, not covered in class)
June 11-16 Final Exam In order to evaluate students' work more fairly, a written examination will be given.
The Riverside Chaucer is the standard edition and students who wish to study in depth will need to have it. Blake's edition of the Hengwrt Manuscript is a useful text for the Canterbury Tales. In addition, Brother Anthony's Literature in English Society Part 1: The Middle Ages (Sogang University Press) will be helpful. Students are strongly encouraged to read most of Brother Anthony's book during the winter vacation, in preparation, especially the chapter dealing with Chaucer in his European context (pages 115 - 154). Many of the Tales to be studied are contained in Volume One of the Norton Anthology.
The first report, due in Week 10, will be a thoughtful, personal reading of one Canterbury Tale. The final report will deal either with "Dreams and Dream-Visions" or with "Love and Courtesy" or with "Sin and Holiness" or with "Wealth and Pleasure" and will go beyond Chaucer to include consideration of major English and European works such as "Piers Plowman," "Sir Gawain & the Green Knight," the romances of Chretier de Troyes, Malory, Dante.......
Parts of Brother Anthony's Home Page may be of help: especially one with an introduction to Chaucer (including the Canterbury Tales) and one with a variety of materials about some other medieval texts. Any student really interested will also explore the resources listed on his Medieval Resources page.
Recent Studies for Reference
Chaucer - related
The Cambridge Chaucer Companion (Boitani & Mann) Cambridge
A New Introduction to Chaucer 2nd edition (Derek Brewer) Longman
The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer (Derek Pearsall) Blackwell
The Oxford Guides to The Canterbury Tales (Mann), Troilus and Criseyde (Windeatt), and The Shorter Poems (Minnis)
An Introduction to the Canterbury Tales (Helen Phillips) St. Martin's
The Canterbury Tales (Derek Pearsall) George Allen & Unwin
Chaucer and the Subject of History (Lee Patterson) Routledge
Chaucer and his Readers (Seth Lerer) Princeton
Chaucer and the Energy of Creation (Edward I. Condren) UPF
Chaucer's 'Troilus & Criseyde' Essays in Criticism. (ed. R.A.Shoaf) MRTS
Chaucer's England (ed. Barbara Hanawalt) Minnesota
Chaucer and his English Contemporaries (W.A.Davenport) St. Martin's
Chaucer and the Late Medieval World (Lillian M. Bisson) St. Martin's
Chaucer: 1340-1400: The Life and Times of the First English Poet (Richard West) Carroll & Graf
Courtliness and Literature in Medieval England (David Burnley) Longman
Public Reading and the Reading Public in late medieval England and France (Joyce Coleman) Cambridge
City and Spectacle in Medieval Europe (Hanawalt & Reyerson) Minnesota
Bodies and Disciplines (Hanawalt & Wallace) Minnesota
An Introduction to the Gawain - Poet (Ad Putter) Longman
Images of Faith in English Literature 700 - 1599 (Dee Dyas) Longman
English Medieval Mystics (Marion Glasscoe) Longman
Chaucer to Spencer: An Anthology (ed. Derek Pearsall) Blackwell