What besides The Canterbury Tales did Chaucer write? How did Chaucer engage with earlier medieval authors?
This class is the first semester in a two-part survey of Chaucer’s major works. In this first semester, we will study the works with which Chaucer established his reputation in his time: his early dream vision poems and his greatest completed work: Troilus and Criseyde. In the second semester, we will study The Canterbury Tales. In this first semester, we will focus on immersing ourselves in Chaucer’s language, building not only a comprehension of Chaucer’s verse but a sensitivity to the subtle nuances of Chaucer’s tone and narrative voice. We will be reading Chaucer exclusively in Middle English, but no previous experience with Middle English is required. Chaucer delights to engage other authors and other texts through his own poems, so we will also be reading some of the works with which Chaucer is explicitly interacting, including medieval favorites such as Ovid, Cicero, Macrobius, and Chaucer’s great Italian predecessor, Boccaccio.
Although not required, students are highly encouraged to take Chaucer II: The Canterbury Tales after taking this course.
This course includes two 90-minute lectures per week with one 60-minute discussion session as assigned.
Week 1 – Dream Visions 1
- Introduction to Middle English, Dream Visions
- Book of the Duchess, 1 – 290
Week 2 – Dream Visions 2
- Book of the Duchess, 291 – 757
- Book of the Duchess, 758 – 1334
Week 3 – Dream Visions 3
- House of Fame Book I, 1 – 508
- House of Fame Book II, 509 – 1090
Week 4 – Dream Visions 4
- House of Fame Book III, 1091 – 2158
- Parlement of Foules
Week 5 – Troilus 1
- Il Filostrato, Proem – Canto IV
- Il Filostrato, Canto V – IX
Week 6 – Troilus 2
- Troilus and Criseyde, Book I
Week 7 – Troilus 3
- Troilus and Criseyde, Book II
Week 8 – Troilus 4
- Troilus and Criseyde, Book III
Week 9 – Troilus 5
- Troilus and Criseyde, Book IV
Week 10 – Troilus 6
- Troilus and Criseyde, Book V
Week 11 – Dreaming Once More 1
- Prologue to The Legend of Good Women
Week 12 – Dreaming Once More 2
- The Legend of Good Women
- The Riverside Chaucer by Benson, Pratt and Robinson
- The Story of Troilus by R.K. Gordon
- Troilus and Criseyde (Norton Critical Edition) edited by Stephen Barney
Note on Textbooks: Our primary textbook for this semester will be The Riverside Chaucer, the premier scholarly edition of Chaucer’s complete works. This book is expensive, but it will be the main textbook for both semesters of the Chaucer class, and it is a great book to have for the rest of your life, anyway.
In addition to the Riverside, I have recommended the Norton Critical edition of the Troilus. You need not purchase this if you’d rather not – the required texts contain both Chaucer’s Troilus and Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato. However, the Norton Troilus features a facing-page edition that puts Chaucer’s poem in direct parallel with Boccaccio’s work, which makes direct comparison much easier. If you decide, for instance, to write a paper on Troilus, I’d recommend picking up a copy of the Norton; it’s pretty darn cool.
– Dr. Olsen
This course has been offered in the following semesters.
|Spring 2023||Dr. Liam Daley|
|Fall 2020||Liam Daley|
|Fall 2017||Liam Daley|
|Spring 2014||Liam Daley|