In this course we explore the literature of medieval England through Geoffrey Chaucer's great work, The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's magnificent anthology includes the bawdy Miller's Tale (a college student seduces a townsman's wife), the shocking Pardoner's Tale (a preacher confesses that he is a 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 relationships among genre, gender and social class, Chaucer's meditations on history and tradition, his classical and continental inheritance (via Dante, Petrarch, and Ovid), and the peculiarities of medieval authorship and performance. Readings will be in Middle English, and we will spend some time on pronunciation and reading skills. We will also delve into recent and classic Chaucer criticism and explore some modern rewritings of Chaucer. Requirements include five short writing assignments culminating in a final project.