English 150

Senior Seminar: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
12 Spring 2006 Nolan, Maura
Nolan, Maura
TTh 3:30-5 287 Dwinelle

Other Readings and Media

Mann, J., ed.: The Canterbury Tales; Davis, N., ed.: Chaucer Glossary; Miller, R., ed.: Chaucer: Sources and Backgrounds


This seminar will focus on Chaucer?s Canterbury Tales, one of the most complicated, funny, tragic, moral, irreverent and engaging texts written in English. Students will learn to read Middle English both silently and out loud, and will have the opportunity to perform Chaucer?s poetry if they so choose. We will focus on a series of questions about English literary history and its origins (or lack of origin) in Chaucer?s poetry; we will also learn about fourteenth-century history and culture, and the sources that Chaucer used to create his masterwork. The Canterbury Tales is a tour de force of genres, poetic modes, narratives and styles, making it an ideal text through which to explore the emergence of vernacular poetry in England, and from which to look forward to later developments in the English poetic tradition. We will focus on such topics as selfhood, gender, authorship, religiosity and politics, to name just a few of the categories of understanding that might be brought to bear on Chaucer?s great poem. Students will contribute to an online discussion and write a seminar paper in consultation with the professor.

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