A knight, a monk, and a lawyer meet at a tavern and decide to go on a pilgrimage. Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales begins with a freak meeting of a motley crew in a tavern: an association made over food and drink becomes the occasion for English literature’s most celebrated collection of diverse tales. This seminar will introduce us to Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and, through Chaucer, to the wide variety of literary and scholarly genres of the middle ages (romance, fabliaux, hagiography, sermons). In addition, we will learn about Chaucer, the poet and bureaucrat, and try to make sense of his actual literary circles and the radical difference between his intimate London coterie and the incredibly diverse array of tall tale-tellers in the Tales (Chaucer included). All Chaucer readings in Middle English, supplementary readings (Gawain and the Green Knight) will be taught in facing page translation. Readings will be short, because of the difficulty of the language, but this will also be an opportunity for us to learn about the pleasures of reading poetry aloud. This class will introduce us to medieval genres, medieval conditions of literary production, the life and times of Geoffrey Chaucer, and to poetry. Chaucer readings include a selection of Canterbury tales, Chaucer’s lyrics, and two shorter dream visions (The Book of the Duchess and The Parliament of Fowls).