SYLLABUS VIEW, Spring 2001

Weekly Schedule and Assignments

Week 1  (1/17): Meet in the library's Rare Books Room [Bring pencils or laptops for notetaking--no pens may be used in the RBR!] Course introduction, fast lesson in Middle English pronunciation and reading, Chaucer's life and culture, and the role of manuscripts, books, and editors in the invention of the Canterbury Tales. Read: RC "Introduction" first 11 pages (xv-xxvi), "Truth: Balade de Bon Conseyl" (653), "Gentilesse: Moral Balade of Chaucier" (654), and Lak of Stedfastnesse" (654).  For critical studies of Chaucer's shorter lyrics, including these, click here.  If you have not already done so, click here to go to Larry D. Benson's Harvard Chaucer Seminar site for help understanding how to pronounce Middle English vowels and consonants.  You need to start as soon as possible to teach your ear to hear the "music" of Middle English, and to teach your mouth and diaphragm to "sing" it.  For most students, the transition period is roughly three weeks.  If you encounter difficult passages, read them out loud twice, the first time paying attention to your Middle English vowels and consonants and the second time listening to what the words are saying.  These works were meant to be read out loud, and it's still the best way to understand them.  (Students often report dreaming in Middle English by mid-semester--hang on to your hats!)

Week 2  (1/24): Canterbury Tales "General Prologue" (853 ll.). Mon. 1/22, Wed. 1/24, and Fri. 1/26 conferences available.

For a sample English 211 quiz on the "General Prologue," and a link to the answers and rationales for the questions, click here.

Week 3  (1/31): "Knight's Tale" Parts 1 and 2 (859-1880 [1021 ll.])

Week 4  (2/7): "Knight's Tale" Parts 3 and 4 (1881-3108 [1217 ll.]) BIB. #1 DUE 2/11.

Week 5  (2/14): "Miller's Tale," "Reeve's Tale," "Cook's Fragment" (1314 ll.)  For a hardcopy scholarly text of the MS versions of the spurious "Cook's Tale of Gamelyn," click here.  For an online version with better glosses, click here.

Week 6  (2/21): "Man of Law's Prologue, Tale, and Endlink" (1190 ll.) BIB. #2 DUE.2/25. If you are handling tales in which you see traditional folk-tale motifs (talking roosters, tricky foxes, the misdirected message, the cradle trick), you might want to consult Stith Thompson's Motif Index of Folk Literature.  It's an amazing, five-volume compendium of tales involving rudderless boats, cruel bridegrooms, and talking ducks.  For budding structuralists or cultural critics, it's a real treasure. 

Because this tale marks our first encounter with text that could possibly be read in another order depending on the CT manuscript we follow, take a moment to consult the other possible tale orders and see what tales it could be following or preceeding.   Also, you might be interested in an explanation for how the manuscripts of CT were placed in those "families," and how manuscripts get accidentally altered in production.

Week 7  (2/28): "Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale," "Shipman's Tale" (1716 ll.)

Week 8  (3/7 "Friar's Prologue and Tale," "Summoner's Prologue and Tale" (1030 ll.) BIB. #3 DUE 3/11.

MIDTERM PAPER DUE ON OR BEFORE Sunday, 3/13, at noon.  Please consider posting a short description of your paper on the public folder before you get fully committed to it in final draft form.  Just give me an email heads-up that you're hoping for feedback.

--Spring Break, Saturday 3/13 through Sunday, 3/21--

Week 9  (3/26): ): "Clerk's Prologue and Tale" (1212 ll.) and "Merchant's Prologue, Tale, and Epilogue" (1228 ll.)

Week 10  (3/28): "Squire's Tale," "Franklin's Prologue and Tale," "Physician's Tale," (1624 ll.)  BIB. #4 DUE 4/1.  

Week 11 11 (4/4): "Pardoner's Prologue and Tale," "Prioress' Tale," "Rime of Sir Thopas," "Tale of Melibee" (1536 ll.) (968 ll.)

Week 12  (4/11): "Monk's Prologue and Tale," "Nuns' Priest's Prologue and Tale" (1584 ll.)

Week 13  (4/18) "Second Nun's Prologue and Tale," "Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale," and "Manciple's Prologue and Tale," (1843 ll.).  BIB. #5 DUE 4/22.  (Last one!)  

Week 14  (4/25): "Parson's Prologue and Tale" and "Chaucer's Retraction" (1458 ll.).  Last Class--is this the end of the pilgrimage, or just another stop?  Course evaluations.  To see Final Papers in Progress for Spring 2001, click here.

Chronological View

Back to English 330