John Dryden called Chaucer "the father of English poetry," and
equated him to Homer and Virgil. Chaucer, said Dryden, "is
a perpetual fountain of good sense." This course introduces
you to one of the most influential story collections of English
literary history, The Canterbury Tales. Bawdy, profound,
rude, and beautiful—Chaucer's tales continue to inspire, delight,
and awe their readers. We will read his tales in their original
Middle English. We may also read works by Chaucer's English, French,
and Italian contemporaries in order to contextualize his tales.
No previous knowledge of Middle English is required. Translations,
short paper, and a take-home final exam.
We meet TTh
9:30 am - 10:45 am, in Bartlett 203
Please attend classes.
University guidelines for absence will be enforced. Check your
handbook. My lectures are copyrighted material. Any use of my
lectures in written, electronic, or recorded form without my
prior consent is illegal.
Books will be ordered
to Amherst Books, 8 Main St., in Amherst.
We will be using:
- The Canterbury Tales (Broadview, 2008). Price: 32.95
Structure & Objectives:
The focus of the course
is Chaucer's art. In order to appreciate it, you will need to
be comfortable reading Middle English. His art just doesn't scan
as well in modern English. If you haven't seen Middle English,
take a look: here is The Canterbury
electronic format. First lines:
Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour ...
are also expected to complete your reading prior to each class--the
readings average several hundred lines of Middle English per
Please meet with me
at least once during the semester (at the least to check your
grades to ensure my gradebook and your grades match
Please make an appointment to meet at a time convenient
to you and I will try to oblige.
There is a midterm paper,
500 wds. (25%, topic);
three sample translations (30%,
1, 2, 3);
five quizzes (15%); and a final exam/paper (30%,
exam). See Grading
Policies and Papers for
more information on how I assign grades.
- YOUR PAPER
MUST BE HANDED IN AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS ON THE DATE DUE.
LATE PAPERS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
- No electronic
- ALL MISSED
ASSIGNMENTS GET AN "F." If you foresee being absent, please let
me know well beforehand. Check "Policies" in the help
GETS AN "F." This may be for the paper or for the course, at
my discretion. Please check your student handbook and university
guidelines for more on plagiarism.
- ALL PAPERS
MUST BE TYPED OR WORD-PROCESSED. Not doing so reduces your grade
by one letter-value (e.g., "C" down to "D").
1: There is no note 1.
course schedule is subject to change. It is not to be construed
as a substitute for your attendance or as a catalogue of all
the information for which you are responsible. All changes
will be announced with a reasonable lead time. This syllabus
constitutes a binding contract between the student and the
professor. If you do not agree with any of the provisions set
herein or if you foresee disagreeing with any of the provisions
which may be reasonably added during the course of the term,
then you are free to drop this class within the time allotted
by the university.
NOTE 3: All
material pertaining to this course--namely but not exclusively
handouts, quizzes, exams, tests, maps, graphs, charts, printed
matter, recorded matter, electronic matter including but not limited
to this syllabus and associated electronic documents, films, video
clips, conversations, office consultations, classroom responses,
lectures, asides, answers to classroom queries, tattoos, chants,
psychic acts, semaphor, interpretative dance, meaningful hand signals,
channeling of ancient gods, and related utterances--is copyrighted
material and is subject to international and US laws of copyright.
Enrollment in this course constitutes tacit acceptance of this
agreement and of the copyright claims made therein. Any breach
of this agreement or use of copyrighted material by any member
of the university or the public without prior consent will be met
with legal action.