Geoffrey Chaucer had a range matched by very few authors. Author of bawdy fabliaux, high philosophical meditations, psychological character studies, a technical manual, hazy dream visions, medievalizations of the classical past, treatises on fame, and deliberately(?) unfinished romances, all underwritten by varying levels of irony, Chaucer has left us with a corpus that has entertained and puzzled readers for nearly eight hundred years. In this course we will explore the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer in order to study one of literary history’s most versatile minds, and to introduce students to Middle English language and culture. One goal of the course is to encourage students to enjoy Chaucer: we will work towards this by emphasizing Chaucer’s own playfulness in his texts, including his experimentation, his presentation of human difference, his elastic manipulation of philosophical ideas, his attention to the problems of translation, and his self-conscious consideration of narrative. In so doing, the course will provide an introduction to the uncanny amalgam of familiar and foreign that is Middle English.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in class discussion, one presentation with annotated bibliography, in-class writing, several short writing assignments, one longer 8- to 10-page paper
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preference: English majors
Distributions: Division I;