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EH 450: Chaucer (undergraduate)

The goal of this course is to immerse you in the language, works and
world of the late fourteenth-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer, known
affectionately as the “Father of English Poetry.” We will read across
Chaucer works touching on his most important poems. We will read,
further, background and source material related to Chaucer and his
works and various twentieth- and twenty-first century literary critics’
interpretations and close-readings of Chaucer’s works. These critical
readings are meant to enhance discussion as well as provide models for
your own sound close-reading and the the writing of your seminar essay.


Helpful Links:
Chaucer Online Bibliography
Chaucer Metapage (online texts, bibliographies, links to other Chaucer sites, etc.
Middle English Dictionary


CT=Canterbury Tales
TC=Troilus and Criseyde
DV=Dream Visions


In Class


Jan. 7

Introductions, review of syllabus


Jan. 9

Chaucer's Life and Society

Read CT "General Prologue"


Jan 14

The Canterbury Tales "General Prologue"

Read CT "The Knight's Tale"

Jan. 16

"The Knight's Tale"

Read CT "The Miller's Tale" and Strohm "A Mixed Commonwealth"


Jan. 21

no class    

Jan 23

"The Miller's Tale"

Read "The Reeve's Prologue and Tale"

Jan 28

"The Reeve's Tale"

Read "The Wife of Bath's Prologue"

Jan 30

"The Wife of Bath's Prologue"

Read "The Wife of Bath's Tale"

Feb 4

Reading Response Essay Due "The Wife of Bath's Tale"

Read "The Clerk's Prologue and Tale"

Feb 6

"The Clerk's Prologue and Tale"

Read "The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale" and Boccaccio's Introduction to the Decameron


Feb 11

"The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale"

Read Pearsall, "Death of a Salesman"

Feb 13

Pearsall Essay and Critical Writing

Read TC Book I


Feb 18

Troilus and Criseyde Book I

Read TC Book II

Feb 20

Troilus and Criseyde Book II

Read Boccaccio Il Filostrato Introduction and Ovid excerpts (ANGEL)


Feb 25

; Troilus and Criseyde Sources

Read TC finish Book II;

Feb. 27

Close-reading essays due; TC Book II

Read TC Book III; C.S. Lewis "What Chaucer Really Did…"


Mar. 4

Troilus and Criseyde Book III

Read TC Book IV

Mar. 6

Troilus and Criseyde Book IV

Read TC Book V


Mar. 11

Troilus and Criseyde Book V

Read  Mann "Feminizing Chaucer" (pp. 606-24)

Mar. 13

Catch-Up Day

 Read TC Henryson Testament of Cresseid

(introduction to Henryson)


Mar. 18

Henryson's continuation

Read sample paper

Mar 20

 Annotated Bibliographies Due by Friday Mar. 22



Mar 25-27

Spring Break


Apr 1

Argument Abstract Due, Papers, writing and evaluation

Read DV House of Fame

Apr 3

The House of Fame

Read Evans "Chaucer in Cyberspace"; begin Parliament of Fowles

Apr. 8

The House of Fame

Apr. 10

No class

Read The Book of the Duchess

Apr. 15

The Parliament of Fowles    

Apr. 17

The Book of the Duchess

Read Arthur Bahr, “The Rhetorical Construction of Narrator and Narrative in Chaucer’s The Book of the Duchess” (ANGEL)

Apr. 22

Finish Book of the Duchess and discuss Bahr article

Seminar Essays Due Friday April 26th

 Finish Seminar Essay