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Topics in Chaucer

ENGL 225.301
instructor(s):
MWF 12

We will devote much of the course to studying Chaucer's magnificent tragedy, Troilus and Criseyde (the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl to a Greek warrior), as well as other minor poems such as the Parliament of Fowls (birds get together to discuss love and policy), The Legend of Good Women (women from classical mythology get a chance to air their complaints), The Book of the Duchess (Chaucer comforts a grieving knight), and a few Canterbury Tales. Some concerns of the course will include the relationship between poetry and counsel, the competing values of aristocratic culture, gender relations, Chaucer's historical and mythographic consciousness, his classical and continental inheritance (Dante, Petrarch, Boethius), the complexities of medieval authorship (translation, genre, the status of English), audience and performance. Readings will be in Middle English, and we will spend some time on pronunciation and reading skills, as well as on investigating Chaucerian "keywords" such as truth, pity, courtesy, imagination, and intention.

Requirements: Midterm, final, two short papers, and exercises.