This course enthusiastically celebrates the writing of one of British literature’s senior citizens: Geoffrey Chaucer. Some of the “oldies but goodies” that we will be studying this semester include The Parliament of Fowls, The House of Fame, Troilus and Crieseyde, and The Canterbury Tales. While our central focus will be the poems themselves, the rich complexities of the various modes of writing that comprise these narratives demand brief but frequent forays into other textual terrains including saints’ lives, chronicles, sermons, and relevant prose and verse analogues. Possible topics of discussion include Chaucer’s social and political consciousness, the relationship between authorship and authority (manuscript production, translation, and transmission), and the place of poetic labor in the medieval workforce.
Course Expectations: Preparedness, promptness, and heartfelt (or at least undetectably feigned) enthusiasm for the opportunity to read and discuss Middle English poetry so late in the evening.
Course Requirements: Three essays, mid-term and final examinations, and one or more individual class presentations.