L305 — Spring 2018

Ballantine Hall 233
Days and Times
4:00-5:15 TR
Course Description

Called by some of his contemporaries the founder of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucers work has inspired, amused, instructed, and scandalized readers for centuries. This course provides an introduction to Chaucers major writings with a special emphasis on The Canterbury Tales. Over the course of the semester, we will examine how Chaucer creatively appropriated earlier literature to create some of the most remarkably innovative poetry of the Middle Ages. Although our focus will be on close engagement with his poetry, we will situate that poetry in larger cultural and literary contexts, attending to the dynamic interaction between literary appropriation and innovation and the highly ambivalent versions of textual authority that emerge from such interaction. We will begin the semester with study of Middle English and discuss some of Chaucers shorter poems before we turn to The Canterbury Tales. To understand the way that Chaucer constructs his relationships with the literary past, we will frequently consider his sources. We will also think about Chaucers legacy, looking at creative appropriations of his writing in the modern world in film, tv, poetry, and novels. Course requirements include engaged participation, a translation assignment, a group disputation, a final project, and an exam. Instructor: Shannon Gayk

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