Chaucer II: The Canterbury Tales

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

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 one 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.

Although not a prerequisite for this course, we encourage students to also take Chaucer I: Visions of Love, which covers the earlier stage of Chaucer’s poetic career.

Notes for Summer 2024: This Flex course includes recorded lectures by Dr. Corey Olsen and will be precepted by Dr. Liam Daley and Dr. Nelson Goering. The Summer 2024 term will include a 1-week summer break during the week of June 17, 2024

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

The Amazon links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase texts wherever they wish.

Note on Textbooks: Students should purchase either The Riverside Chaucer or The Canterbury Tales , edited by Robert Boenig and Andrew Taylor, but do not need both. Our primary textbook for both semesters of the Chaucer course will be The Riverside Chaucer – the premier scholarly edition of Chaucer’s complete works, and an excellent resource for any student interested in medieval literature. However, since the Riverside is expensive, students taking only Chaucer II are welcome to use Boening and Taylor’s edition of The Canterbury Tales. or any other good scholarly edition of this poem in the original Middle English.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Summer 2024Dr. Liam Daley & Dr. Nelson Goering
Spring 2021Liam Daley
Spring 2018Liam Daley
Summer 2014Liam Daley
Chaucer II: The Canterbury Tales

In this class we will study one of the great classics of English literature, The Canterbury Tales, in which we see Chaucer at the height of his poetic abilities, mixing sensitive characterization with stunningly complex storytelling.

START: April 29, 2024

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITD 5302