Studies in Medieval Literature   (English 450)
Graduate School Spring Semester 2003,
Brother Anthony (An Sonjae)
Tuesday 2 - 5

This course will be a general study of the major works of medieval English literature with considerable time spent on Chaucer.

Week 1: Introduction to the Middle Ages and the literature of the period

Week 2: Old English Literature in translation
  Bede on Caedmon's dream, Beowulf, The Wanderer, The Dream of the Rood
 Topic: What are the major characteristics of these works? In what ways are they "elegaic" and "heroic"?

Week 3: Romance: Chivalry and love
 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Malory: Morte D'Arthur (Norton extracts)
 Topic: The link and tension between chivalry and love. Read my article on Romantic Love. (also in Korean)

Week 4: Lyric Poetry in England and in Europe
 English medieval lyrics; the troubadors, Dante: La Vita Nuova, Petrarch: Canzoniere, Machaut, Villon, Charles d'Orleans
 Topic: Contrast English medieval lyrics with the achievements of the European lyric.

Week 5 Troilus and Criseyde Books 1 - 3  (Read this work in the Korean translation)
Topic: How does the story develop? What problems does the Narrator express and how does he deal with them?

Week 6: Troilus and Criseyde
 Topic: Why is this story 'a tragedy'? What is the significance of the Boethian elements? Why does Troilus laugh near the end?

Week 7: The Canterbury Tales: The General Prologue
 Topic: How should we read the portraits? Are they meant to be realistic? Satirical? What criteria are to be applied in judging the story- telling contest?

Week 8: The Knight's Tale
 Topic: What is this story about? Compare its view of love and of human life with that found in Troilus and Criseyde. Read my article

Week 9: The Miller's Tale (and The Reeve's Tale)
 Topic: Are these tales "funny"? If not, what are they? What is their status as "literature"? What are they doing in the Canterbury Tales?

Week 10: The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale     (this class will be re-scheduled)
 Topic: Who is the Wife? A voice? A "character"? A model, or a monster? Is she a feminist in any sense? What is the relationahip between medieval antifeminism and her words? What is the relationship between the Prologue and the Tale?

Week 11: The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale
 Topic: Compare this with Piers Plowman as an exercise in satire aimed at corruption in the Church and beyond that at human sin in general. Comment on the way the Tale ends. Reflect on the contrast between the teller and the tale. Read my article  (also in Korean)

Week 12: The Nun's Priest's Tale
 Topic: Think carefully about the way this is a story about people telling stories and trying to give meaningful messages through the stories they tell. What is the "moral" of the NPT? Why so much talk about dreams? Read my article

Week 13: The Clerk's Tale
Topic: Respond to the way the story of Griselde's experiences is told. What is your view of Walter? What is this story about? Comment on the final portion of the Tale.

Week 14: The Prioress's Tale and The Nun's Tale
Compare these two "religious" tales. Why is the first often considered "anti-Semitic"? Does it have any special theme? What might explain the inclusion of the story of St. Cecilia in the Canterbury Tales? Read my article

Week 15:  Drama: The Mystery Play Cycles, moralities and Everyman
Topic: Evaluate these plays as effective drama.

Text Books

1. For most of the texts: Volume One of the Norton Anthology.

2. For most of the Canterbury Tales: Brother Anthony and Lee Dong-Chun, Textual Criticism of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (SNU Press)
Lee Dong-Chun and Lee Dong-Il Translation of the Canterbury Tales into Korean
Kim Jae-Whan Translation of Troilus and Criseyde into Korean
The Cambridge Chaucer Companion
The Oxford Guides to the Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde
Derek Brewer's Guide to Chaucer.

3. For background information and an overall survey:  Brother Anthony's Literature in British Society, Volume One (Sogang University Press).

Online Texts and Study-guides:

Brother Anthony's index page of Supplementary Texts (especially the Chaucer section)
Brother Anthony's list of Medieval Links
An article outlining the development of Love in European medieval literature
Extracts from Troilus and Criseyde with summary: Books 1-3, Books 4-5. (for class use).
A link to the full text of Troilus and Criseyde (modern spelling, lightly abbreviated)
The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (Introduction) (Text with notes) (Hear it being read)
The Knight's Tale (Full text) (Shorter text for class)
The Miller's Tale (Introduction) (Text)
The Nun's Priest's Tale (Introduction) (Text) (Article)
The Wife of Bath : Prologue and Tale
The Pardoner's Introduction, Prologue and Tale (Introduction)
The Clerk : Prologue and Tale


Students will write two well-documented papers, one on Troilus and Criseyde by the tenth week, one a well-thought comparison of three Canterbury Tales for the end of semester.

In addition, students are encouraged to find useful visual material online and in the library, illustrating the works studied each week, and to collect them in a scrapbook file during the semester. Scrapbooks will be collected and included in the final grade.


Active participation in class (presentations and discussions) (15%)
Scrapbook (15%)
Two reports (35% each)