Chaucer II: The Canterbury Tales

The Balrog, by Ted Nasmith

May 5, 2014
12 Weeks
LITD 5302


Dr. Corey Olsen
Dr. Corey Olsen
University President; Board Member: President; Lecturer

What is up with the frame narrative of Canterbury Tales? Why should we care about the Canterbury Tales today?

In this class we will study of the great classics of English literature: Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.  In the Tales, we see Chaucer at the height of his poetic abilities, mixing sensitive characterization and stunning complexity of storytelling with his inimitable wit and good humor.   In our reading of The Canterbury Tales, we will look carefully at the intimate relationship between Chaucer’s stories and their narrative frame, between the tales and their tellers, and we will be watching how Chaucer engages and plays with his various literary sources.  We will be reading Chaucer in his original Middle English, but no previous experience with Middle English is required for the class.

Note: Chaucer I, Visions of Love, is not a prerequisite for Chaucer II.  The two courses merely cover the earlier and later stages of Chaucer’s poetic career.

Course Schedule

Week 1 – The Prologue

  • Frames and Beginnings
  • General Prologue I.1-269

Week 2 – From Frame to Story

  • General Prologue I.270-858
  • The Knight’s Tale I.859-1880

Week 3 – The Knight

  • The Knight’s Tale I.1881-3108
  • The Knight’s Tale, conclusions

Week 4 – The Miller

  • The Miller’s Prologue and Tale I.3109-3396
  • The Miller’s Tale I.3397-3854

Week 5 – The Reeve and the Wife

  • The Reeve’s Pologue and Tale I.3855-4324
  •  The Wife of Bath’s Prologue III.1-452

Week 6 – The Wife of Bath

  •  The Wife of Bath’s Prologue III.453-856
  •  The Wife of Bath’s Tale III.857-1264

Week 7 – The Clerk

  •  The Clerk’s Prologue and Tale IV.1-609
  •  The Clerk’s Tale IV.610-1212

Week 8 – The Merchant

  •  The Merchant’s Prologue and Tale IV.1213-1865
  • The Merchant’s Tale and Epilogue IV.1866-2440

Week 9 – The Franklin

  • The Franklin’s Prologue and Tale V.709-1100
  • The Franklin’s Tale V.1101-1624

Week 10 – The Pardoner and the Prioress

  • The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale VI.287-968
  • The Prioress’s Prologue and Tale VII.453-690

Week 11 – The Narrator and the Nun’s Priest

  • The Tale of Sir Thopas VII.691-966
  • The Nun’s Priest’s Prologue and Tale VII.2767-3186

Week 12 – The Nun’s Priest, the Parson, and The End

  • The Nun’s Priest’s Tale and Epilogue VII.3187-3462
  • The Parson’s Tale, The Retraction

Required Texts

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Chaucer II Offerings
Semester Preceptor(s)
Summer 2014 Liam Daley