English | Chaucer
L305 | 29000 | Betsy Williamsen
29000 - 2:15p-1:25p MWF (30 students) 3 cr., A&H.
Geoffrey Chaucer has been called the “father of English poetry,” but
many of his most famous works are actually translations and
adaptations of existing stories and poems. So how are his
contributions particularly English or particularly poetic? In this
class we will focus on The Canterbury Tales and a few of Chaucer’s
shorter works to consider the ways in which Chaucer appropriated the
works of his literary predecessors to produce some of the most
creative and innovative poetry of the Middle Ages. In addition to
Chaucer’s texts, we will also need to become familiar with the
literary traditions and sources he draws from, as well as with his
historical and cultural context.
Because the basis for literary interpretation is a close reading of
language, we will be reading all Chaucerian texts in their original
Middle English. Writing assignments for the course will include
short close-reading analyses; a midterm exam; and a longer, multi-
part research project that requires students to examine trends in
the critical history of a Chaucerian text and, ultimately, to extend
or respond to that critical movement in his or her own researched
essay (8-10 pages).