Chaucer: Telling Medieval Tales
Queen Mary, University of London
Area of Study
Classics, English, Literature
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits4
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units6
Hours & Credits
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales offer to modern readers the opportunity to explore many different kinds of medieval narrative: romances, pious stories, tragedies and knockabout comedies, for example, peopled with characters ranging from kings and saints to workmen and students. Some tales are set in the distant past, others in fourteenth-century English settings that would have been familiar to Chaucer's early readers. Different verse forms or alternations of verse and prose create other kinds of variety, and the overall framework of the pilgrimage on which the tales are supposedly recounted allows for a number of dramatic effects. This module will explore The Canterbury Tales as a work designed to explore narrative variety and its possibilities. We will read and compare a selection of tales in Chaucer's Middle English, looking at such matters as their sources and the construction of their narrators; and we will look at some other medieval experiments with framed tale collections. We will also spend time on the early dissemination of The Canterbury Tales, taking the opportunity to work closely with manuscript sources available online.
Assessment: 100.0% Coursework
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