Home‎ > ‎

    EH 650: The Ecological Chaucer (graduate)

    If we believe the literary historian John Fisher, then Geoffrey Chaucer was the face of a vernacular movement in the early-fifteenth century set about by the Lancastrian regime and King Henry V to implement English as the official and national language of Britain. Chaucer, then, stands at the threshold of the development of English both as a modern language and as a language of conquest and empire for the next six centuries. The goal of this course is to immerse you in the works and world of the late fourteenth-century poet Chaucer, who has been called the “Father of English Poetry.” We will read across Chaucer works touching on most of his poems.

    Specifically, this semester, we will focus our discussions of Chaucer within an ecological frame. Chaucer, himself, was once a forrester and his poems maintain an at times conventional and at times peculiar sense of Nature, the environment, and the animal. To this end we will use Greg Garrad’s introduction to ecocriticism as a foundation for ecocritical study of Chaucer’s works. We will read, further, various twentieth- and twenty-first century literary ecocritics’ interpretations and close-readings of Chaucer’s works, as well as other medieval texts. These critical readings are meant to enhance discussion as well as provide models for sound close-reading, the writing of close-reading essays, and larger critical essays.



    Helpful Links:

    Middle English  Dictionary

    Chaucer Online Bibliography

    Chaucer Metapage (includes Chaucer texts online, bibliographies, numerous Chaucer websites)

    Global Chaucers

    In the Middle

    Verbs of attribution


    Aug. 21 Syllabus and Introduction to Chaucer

    HW: Read Garrard Chapters 1 and 2 and Book of the Duchess in Dream Visions


    Aug. 26 Book of the Duchess

    HW: Read Garrard Chapter 4

    Aug. 28 Book of the Duchess

    HW: Read Garrard Chapters 3, 6, and 7 and Parliament of Fowles in Dream Visions


    Sept. 2 Labor Day

    Sept. 4 Parliament of Fowles

    HW: Read Susan Crane “For the Birds” and Sarah Stanbury “Ecochaucer” (ANGEL)


    Sept. 9 Parliament of Fowles, Karl Steel on Critical Animal Studies

    HW: Read Ursula Heise, “Hitchiker’s Guide to Ecocriticism” (ANGEL) and House of Fame in Dream Visions

    Sept. 11 House of Fame

    HW: Read Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought excerpt and Kordecki, “A Bestiary Portrait of the Artist” (ANGEL)


    Sept. 16 House of Fame and the Ecological Thought

    HW: Read “Prologue” to the Legend of Good Women in Dream Visions

    Sept. 18 Legend of Good Women

    HW: Read Karl Steel, How to Make a Human (ANGEL)  and Legend of Philomela in Dream Visions; see also Ovid’s version of the story from Metamorphoses (ANGEL)


    Sept. 23 Legend of Philomela and the Posthuman

    HW: Read Lisa Kiser, “Chaucer and the Politics of Nature” and Legend of Dido from Legend of Good Women

    Sept. 25 Legend of Dido

    HW: Legend of Ariadne and Thisbe in Dream Visions; read


    Sept. 30 Reading Response Due, Legend of Ariadne and Thisbe

    HW: Read “sample argument article”: Arthur Bahr's "Rhetorical Construction of Narrator and Narrative in Chaucer's Book of the Duchess" (ANGEL)

    Oct. 2 Academic Writing

    Read Timothy Morton, Ecology Without Nature excerpt (ANGEL), and General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales


    Oct. 7 General Prologue

    HW: Read The Knight’s Tale and J. Grimes, “Arboreal Politics in the Knight’s Tale” (ANGEL)

    Oct. 9 The Knight’s Tale

    HW: Read The Miller’s Tale and Cary Wolfe “Moving Forward, Kicking Back: the Animal Turn” (ANGEL)


    Oct. 14 The Miller’s Tale and Critical Animal Studies

    HW: Read The Reeve’s Tale and Sandy Feinstein, “The Reeve’s Tale: About That Horse” (ANGEL)

    Oct. 16 The Reeve’s Tale

    HW: finish Close-Reading Essay; Read The Merchant’s Tale


    Oct. 21 Close-Reading Essay Due; The Merchant’s Tale

    Read: The Friar’s Tale and Eric Weiskot, “Chaucer the Forester” (ANGEL)

    Oct. 23 The Friar’s Tale

    HW: Read Jane Bennet, Vibrant Matter (excerpt), Kellie Robertson, “Medieval Things” (ANGEL), The Squire’s Tale


    Oct. 28 The Squire’s Tale and Object Oriented Ontology

    HW: Read The Franklin’s Tale

    Oct. 30 The Franklin’s Tale

    HW: Read The Man of Law’s Tale and Steve Mentz, “Toward a Blue Cultural Studies” (ANGEL)


    Nov. 4 The Man of Law’s Tale and Thalassology

    HW: complete draft of abstracts for workshop

    Nov. 6 Abstract Workshop

    HW: Read The Physician’s Tale


    Nov. 11 Argument Abstract and Critical Review Due

    HW: Read The Pardoner’s Tale and Ruth Evans “Our Cyborg Past”

    Nov. 13 The Pardoner’s Tale

    HW: Read Sir Thopas


    Nov. 18 Annotated Bibliography Due; Sir Thopas

    HW: Read Garrard Chapter 5 and Chaucer’s Retraction

    Nov. 20 Apocalypse

    HW: Work on seminar essays


    Nov. 25 no class

    Nov. 27 Thanksgiving

    HW: Read Garrard Chapter 8


    Dec. 2 Futures; Last Class Day; Surveys

    Dec. 4 Seminar Essay Due