Chaucer was one
of the first great English poets, and to many students he is still one of the
most accessible, despite what you might have heard about his language. We begin this class by going very slowly
through tow of Chaucer’s earlier, shorter poems, The Parliament of Fowls
and The Book of the Duchess, becoming familiar with Chaucer’s language
and literary milieu as painlessly as possible.
We will then be ready to spend the rest of the semester on his two
masterpieces, Troilus and Criseyde
and The Canterbury Tales, the highest expressions of Chaucer’s
affectionate, comic, tragic, and wise view of our condition on this earth and
of the masks with which we conceal the truth from ourselves and reveal it to
others. Chaucer is very much a poet of
his own time, but we will find many ways in which he speaks to our concerns and
our own time as well.
Required text: one of the
standard editions of Chaucer, to be determined.
Course requirements: two to three papers, a mid-term and a final.