ENGL402 - Chaucer

This course explores Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the context of the fourteenth-century social and philosophical environments that necessarily shaped this diverse group of stories. We will look at the cultural assumptions that frame these poems: how the Tales were shaped not only by contemporary literary and court life but equally by recent episodes of plague, rebellion, and religious unrest. The course has several interrelated goals: to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Chaucer’s poetry; to gain proficiency in reading Middle English as well as speaking it aloud; and to reflect on how a “medieval” perspective may differ from a modern one. Reading the Canterbury Tales necessarily engages us in a dialogue with other readers of Chaucer: from his earliest readers (such as his scribe Adam Pinkhurst) to more contemporary ones, both professional and non-professional. To this end, we will take soundings of the commitments and practices found in contemporary Chaucer criticism as well as medieval blogs throughout the course.


Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.