L306 16296 MIDDLE ENGLISH LITERATURE
9:30a-10:45a TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.
Who murdered Chaucer? This is the title of a recent work by the ex- Monty Python member, Terry Jones. The course of medieval literature culminates in one of the greatest mysteries in the history of literature: what happened to one of the most famous and important poets of his time? Using Terry Jones as a guide (with, perhaps, the occasional Monty Python-esque spirit), we will approach this mystery like detectives, that is, but familiarizing ourselves with the culture that produced Chaucer and then towards the end of the Middle Ages, morphed into a time of political nightmares. The focus of this course, therefore, will be the politics and social upheavals of the Middle Ages, concentrating mainly on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but including some earlier twelfth-century works as well. In addition to reading some of Chaucerís Canterbury Tales in Middle English, we will also read some of the other major figures of the period, William Langlandís Piers Plowman, Margery Kempe, and selections from the work of John Gower and John Lydgate. Our interests will range beyond the major figures to some of the minor, radical ones. Students will be expected to read some of the texts in Middle English with some guidance. There will be two papers, as well as shorter response pieces, a midterm and final exam.