MEMS 465 - Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Section: 001 The Canterbury Tales: Telling Tales, Medieval and Modern
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)
Department: LSA History
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This class is an introduction to the work of the most influential literary figure of the English Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer, and it focuses on his major work, the Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories presented as tales told by different tellers. Through this structure, the Canterbury Tales explore how stories create and sustain communities, how they can be used to challenge established social identities, and how and why some kinds of stories are valued or devalued. They do this through (serious, sad, outrageous, and funny) narratives that take up questions about friendship, family, sex, politics, religion, and more. Above all, they explore the way that stories always belong, in some way, to someone other than the teller—to earlier or geographically distant cultures, to contemporary audiences, as well as to the ‘future’ (a word the Chaucer introduced to the English language). We’ll end the course by thinking about some of the Canterbury Tale’s own futures in contemporary works that think about what stories can do and what it means to tell someone else’s story: Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Refugee Tales, a collection of stories told to and by contemporary writers by refugees detained in Britain.

Course Requirements:

Short writing assignments (often in class), two presentations, two papers, exam.

Intended Audience:

This course is open to all students interested in English literature, medieval literature and culture, and, more broadly, well-told stories and their relationship to the social worlds they inhabit. It satisfies the pre-1600 and Poetry requirements for the English major.

MEMS 465 - Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
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