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 fraud), the disturbing Prioress's Tale (Jews ritually murder a Christian boy), and the moralistic Clerk's Tale (a despotic lord marries a humble peasant girl). Some concerns of the course will include the competing values of aristocratic culture, the relationship between 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.We will also delve into recent and classic Chaucer criticism and explore some modern rewritings of Chaucer. Readings from Chaucer will be in Middle English, and we will spend some time on pronunciation and reading skills. No previous experience with Medieval English is necessary - everyone will be caught up after the first week or two.