Graduate Program

350:530 - Chaucer

Course No:  350:530
Index # - 18718
Distribution Requirement:  A1
Thursday - 9:50 a.m.
MU 207


Sarah Novacich

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales associates its tale-telling project with a game. We will spend the semester investigating and evaluating its rules, players, and pleasures, both as they appear within this playful, outrageous, and often suddenly sobering text, and as they have been extended through and by other poets and critics. The course will cover almost all of the Canterbury Tales as well as a few of the shorter works, including the House of Fame, The Book of the Duchess, and parts of Legends of Good Women. We will examine Chaucer’s penchant for playing with and transforming genres; his engagement with the classical past, sacred narrative, and contemporary poets; and the way he negotiates theological sticking points. Beyond setting a critical genealogy in place, the course will consider the configurations of literary inheritance and textual communities that Chaucer both imagines and sets in motion, beginning with his earliest readers, assessors, and imitators (Henryson, Lydgate) and moving through twentieth- and twenty-first century engagements and echoes (Robert Lowell, Ted Hughes, Patience Agbabi). Throughout, we will take up early iterations of subjects of enduring importance to fields of poetry and poetics today, including questions of form, authority, circulation, the relationship between word and image, cultural and linguistic translation, and the function of poetry itself. Criticism will include work by Glenn Burger, Ardis Butterfield, Mary Carruthers, Seeta Chaganti, Carolyn Dinshaw, Jonathan Hsy, V.A. Kolve, Karma Lochrie, Jill Mann, Alastair Minnis, Lee Patterson, and Larry Scanlon. Students will write two 10-12 page papers, with the option of extending the first to one of seminar length.