L305 15873 CHAUCER
Shannon Gayk

11:15a-12:05p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.

This course will provide an introduction to Chaucer’s major poems with a special emphasis on The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer’s poetry, like much late medieval English writing, is often derivative, consisting of translations and adaptations of literary sources. Over the course of the semester, we will examine Chaucer’s creative appropriation (and sometimes intentional misrepresentation) of his literary predecessors to create some of the most remarkably innovative poetry of the Middle Ages. We will consider the dynamic interaction between literary appropriation and innovation and the highly ambivalent versions of textual authority that emerge from such interaction. In order to facilitate the close reading we will be doing over the course of the semester, we will begin with a study of Middle English. To understand the way that Chaucer constructs his relationships with the literary past, we will frequently consider his sources and contemporary analogues, including selections from Virgil’s Aeneid, Boccaccio’s Decameron, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, The Romance of the Rose, medieval beast fables, dream visions, and fabliaux. We will also be concerned with Chaucer’s reception in both his own period and in later literary history. To this end, the readings will sometimes be paired with scholarly and theoretical essays and/or later “re-makes” of and additions to the tales. The course requirements include short written assignments, a presentation, a research paper, and midterm and final exams.