English 401: Chaucer
Professor Melissa D. Aaron
Room 5 126
Office: 24 229
Office hours:TTh 9-10 am; W, 1-3 pm; and by appointment
|Web page||Courses Page|
|Shakespeare Page||Resources Page|
|Discussion Board||Translation paper|
|Criticism paper||Final Exam|
The Riverside Chaucer.
The Cambridge Chaucer Companion.
How would you like to learn a foreign language? To visit another country, another time, almost another world? Were going to do all of the above by reading the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, and in the process well also be reading some of the funniest and most entertaining literature in English.
We will be spending most of the quarter reading Chaucers magnum opus, The Canterbury Tales, but we will also be reading some shorter works. Well study the languagean earlier phase of English; the culturethe religion, the social structure, and the very different approaches to love, marriage, and the gender wars; and the state of Chaucer criticism today.
Because the language is beautiful, but requires careful study, I have designed the course to simplify the process and help you learn more quickly. You will be divided into permanent studii opereLatin for study gangsand will spend time together in class going over the text for meaning and comprehension. I also encourage you to communicate outside of class by email and in person, to study for exams, discuss the cultural issues, and also to just kick back and chat about Chaucer.
Do not be surprised that I will be asking you to read aloud in class. I recommend that you read it this way at home, too. Chaucer meant for his work to be read aloud as entertainment, and it is much easier to understand this way.
You will need access to a computer and the Internet for this courseif this will present a problem, please contact me.
Participationincludes short, ungraded assignments20%
1 translation paper, 20%
1 criticism paper20%
All work handed in to me must be typed and double-spaced in ten or preferably twelve point font. The font I'm using for this, Times New Roman, is nice and easy to read. Please type your name, the class and section number, my name and the date in the upper-right hand corner, and the title centered at the top of the first page. Do not have a title page, and please, please staple your papers together.
The short, ungraded assignments will be done electronically on a threaded discussion board. They are discussion-related and will count towards your participation grade. Since they are time-sensitive, they cannot be made up.
The midterm is a standard blue book exam, with two short passages to identify and analyze, and one essay.
The translation paper is your careful study, adaptation, and rendering of some lines of Chaucer into good Modern English, along with some notes.
The criticism paper is a survey of Chaucer criticism on a particular work, drawn from the entire span of the last hundred years.
The final exam is still To Be Negotiated.
You can't participate if you're not here, obviously. Here are some reasons you don't want to be absent:
More than three absences and your grade will be lowered. Six or more and you will fail the course. Extreme tardiness (more than ten minutes late) counts as an absence.
I don't distinguish between excused and unexcused
absences, and here's why. If you miss class, you'll miss discussion,
my commentary on the texts, homework assignments, etc. In a remarkably
short period of time, you'll find yourself terribly behind, and
it will be next to impossible for you to catch up. The attendance
policy is to help you succeed, not to punish you. If you are faced
with illness or emergency, please let me know right away, and
the same applies if you want questions answered or additional
help. I check my email very regularly and you can also always
come to my office hours.
Did you know that "plagiarism" comes from the Latin word for "kidnapper?" That's because it's theft, and the University and I will treat it that way. I don't want to go into all the dire consequences that will ensue; so don't do it. Enough said. Please see my Plagiarism page for further details.
I count the Cliff's Notes as plagiarism in all cases. Don't use them, period; they will only confuse you and irritate me.
If you use someone else's ideas or words, you have to credit them. Here are two rules to help you with this: are you giving credit where credit is due? If someone wanted to find out more about the information you cited, or look up the quote, do they have enough information to do it? I would like you to use MLA documentation. On my Resources page, under Writing resources, there is a direct link to a handout on MLA style, as well as many other helpful writing resources.
Week 1 September 20th
Th: Introduction to the course. Introduction to Chaucer. Historical background, etc. For Tuesday, read the Introduction in the Riverside, noting especially the sections on language and versification, and Chapter One of the Chaucer CompanionThe social and literary scene in England.
Week 2: September 24th
T Background to Chaucersocial, literary, linguistic and cultural. Model of the universe, religion and religious controversy, social strata, courtly love, genres of poetry, etc. For Thursday, read The Book of the Duchess, and chapter 3 of the companion book, Old books brought to life in dreams.
Th The Book of the Duchess. Permanent assignment to study groups todayintroductions and small group discussion. Open class discussion. Discussion question on the board.
Week 3: October 1st
T The Book of the Duchess.
Th The Book of the Duchess. For Tuesday, read The Parliament of Fowls, possibly small selections of reserve material on courtly love.
Week 4: October 8th
T The Parliament of Fowls. The court, courtly love, and the domande damour, medieval romance, influence of poets such as Marie de France and Chretien des Troyes.
Th Professor at conference. Discussion question.
Week 5: October 15th
T. The Parliament of Fowls.
Th The Parliament of Fowls, and preparation for midterm.
Week 6: October 22nd
Th Beginning of Canterbury TalesGeneral Prologue. Discussion of Bocaccio, frame narrative, and the genres in the poem
Week 7 October 29th
T.CT, Fragment A. Knights Tale, ch. 7 of companion.
Th Fragment AMillers Tale, etc.
Week 8: November 5th
T Finish Fragment AMillers Tale and Reeves Tale. Ch. 8 of companion, on comedy.
Th. Marriage GroupWife of Baths Tale. Translation paper due.
Week 9 November 12th
T Wife of Baths Tale and Clerks Tale. Chapter 9 of Companionon pathos.
Th Merchants Tale.
Week 10: November 19th
T Merchants Tale, Franklins Talech. 10, exemplum and fable.
Th Thanksgiving: no school.
Week 11: November 26th
T Finish the Marriage Group tales. Pardoners Tale. Criticism paper due.
Th Pardoners Tale.
Exam: Thursday, December 6th, 11:30-1:30 pm.
Dr. Aaron's Course Page.
Dr. Aaron's Home Page.firstname.lastname@example.org