ENGLISH 465 - Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Winter 2014, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
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Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
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“What prevents me from telling the truth with a smile?” Chaucer was the first great satirist in English; his poetry was humorous, experimental, even avant-garde — and devoted to telling the truth through made-up stories. This course will focus on the Canterbury Tales, a diverse anthology of stories varying in style, genre, and fictional teller. Written during a time of extraordinary social and political upheaval at the end of the fourteenth century, this framed story collection includes both the stately Knight's Tale and the ribald Miller's Tale, stories about women both obedient and disorderly, clerics both corrupt and . . . well, more corrupt. Along the way it creates a new audience in English for a literature simultaneously playful and serious. We will read most of the Tales, paying attention to the work's qualities as an innovative story collection. Central questions will include:

  • How does the Canterbury Tales address — or even create — its audience?
  • What does its interpretative openness accomplish?
  • What relations develop between literary style and social position?
  • How does the language of the text create the imaginative impression of complex characters?
  • How does one story speak to another?

We will focus especially on narrative voices and the effects they create in their readers; audio tapes will help us hear these voices in Middle English.

Course Requirements:

One short paper, one longer paper, one oral exercise, and a final examination. Book: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, ed. Jill Mann (Penguin 2005).

Intended Audience:

No prior knowledge of Chaucer’s Middle English is expected or required, since part of the purpose of the course will be learning the language with enough fluency to appreciate the beauty, depth, and sheer pleasure of Chaucer’s poetry in its original state.

Class Format:

This course will combine discussion interspersed with lecture.


ENGLISH 465 - Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
MWF 12:00PM - 1:00PM

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