L305 4891 CHAUCER
2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.
This course will serve as an introduction to the work of the fourteenth-century English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. While our primary objective will be reading and understanding Chaucerís Canterbury Tales, we will also examine a few of his other works and a number of interpretive questions that continue to circulate around the poet and his work. A notoriously complex and slippery writer, Chaucerís own position is often difficult to track. Is his Knight a brave hero, or a cynical soldier we are meant to critique? Are we meant to celebrate the Wife of Bathís ability to use the Bible to her own ends, or are we to be horrified at what a bad reader she is? Is Chaucerís Prioressís Tale a sign of the poetís own anti- Semitism, or does it signal his interest in analyzing the psychology of racism? Does the Man of Lawís Tale demonize Islam or show the similarities between Syria and England? As these questions suggest, the interpretive issues that continue to challenge Chaucer critics are pertinent to our own time. Despite the differences in time and language, Chaucerís concerns and his response to those concerns have much relevance in our own day. While we will keep an eye on the particularities of Chaucerís fourteenth century, responsible to historical distinctions between then and now, we will also attend to the commonalities between his concerns and ours, engaging Chaucer without jettisoning our own personal and critical interests.
In addition to Chaucerís texts (in Middle English), the course includes collateral background and critical material. Attendance is required. Course requirements include short reading and language quizzes, two critical essays, a mid-term and a final.