English | Chaucer
L612 | 25272 | Ingham

L612  25272 INGHAM  (#1)

9:30a – 10:45a TR


Chaucer’s poetry is haunted by figures of the dead and the undead:
the drowned Seys, the little clergeon from the Prioress’s Tale,
Troilus in the eighth sphere. Chaucer’s poetry remains haunted in
another way too: by Ovidian tropes and ambiguities, by Petrarchan
figures and forms, by Italian poetic models and by what Charles
Muscatine long ago noted as “the French Tradition.”

In this course, we will think not only about individual visitations,
about Chaucer’s relation to time and to his poetic inheritance, but
also about what it means to consider Chaucerian hauntings as part of
the poet’s “aesthetics.” Engaging with criticism of Chaucer’s poetic
mode (through the work of scholars like Muscatine, David Wallace,
Warren Ginsberg, Carolyn Dinshaw, and Marilynn Desmond) we will
consider the Chaucerian corpus to discern what forms of sensory
impression – of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching –
might be encoded in all this haunting. We will be assisted in this
thinking by the work of theorists of translation (particularly
Walter Benjamin but also medievalists working in postcolonial
cultural studies and the tradition of translatio studii and
imperii), of affiliation (particularly Carla Freccero’s notion
of “queer spectrality,” but also medievalists interested in cross-
temporal affiliations and ruptures), of influence (particularly
Harold Bloom’s account of its anxiety, but also medievalists
interested in aesthetics and feeling). How might Chaucer’s “haunted
aesthetics” help us to think differently about poetic indebtedness
and about the project of source study? While medieval poets have
traditionally been excluded from the project of ‘aesthetics,’ this
course will examine how the case of Chaucer might contribute to our
understanding of the term, and what it means (ethically,
politically, critically) for us (as readers, as scholars, as
medievalists, or even Chaucerians) to remain haunted by these texts.

No previous course work in Middle English or in Chaucer is expected;
translations of primary texts will be available.  Students should,
however, be willing to learn some Middle English and work with the
original language to some extent. Requirements: 3 short
writing “exercises”; one seminar presentation; one final conference-
length paper; regular attendance and active participation.