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 two 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 texts: There
is more than one edition of Chaucer available, including some that are
available on-line, but everyone will be required to have the following so that
we are all, quite literally, on the same page:
Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. Ed. Jill Mann. New York; Penguin, 2005.
Chaucer. Troilus and Criseyde. Ed. Barry Windeatt. New York: Penguin, 2003.
Chaucer. Dream Visions and Other
Poems. Ed. Kathryn Lynch. New York: Norton, 2007.