This course introduces students to late medieval English literature and culture by way of an overview of Chaucer^Rs poetry. We will read a variety of Scourtly poems such as the Parliament of Fowls (birds get together to discuss love and policy), The Legend of Good Women (women from classical mythology air their complaints), The Book of the Duchess (Chaucer comforts a grieving knight), as well as a number of the Canterbury Tales including the bawdy Miller's Tale (a college student tricks a carpenter out of his wife), the shocking Pardoner's Tale (a preacher confesses that he is fraud), the disturbing Prioress's Tale (Jews ritually murder a Christian boy), and the moralistic Clerk's Tale (a despotic lord marries a peasant girl). Some concerns of the course will include the competing values of aristocratic culture, the relation between poetic genres and social class, Chaucer's historical and mythographic consciousness, his classical and continental inheritance (Dante, Petrarch, Ovid, Boethius), and the peculiarities of medieval authorship, audience, and performance (translation, the status of English, manuscript traditions). Readings will be in Middle English, and we will spend some time on pronunciation and reading skills, as well as on investigating Chaucerian "Skeywords" such as truth, pity, courtesy, imagination, and intention.
Requirements: participation, 4 short papers, a mid-term and a final exam.