F. GRADY                                                                                                                                                                                                                              FALL 2016

          461 LUCAS                                                                                                                                                                                                                             MW 9:30-10:45

          516-5510                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 JC PENNEY 63

          M 1:00-2:30, T 12:30-2:00                                                                                                                                                                                                      [#13865]

                   & by appointment                                                                                                                                                                                                          fgrady@umsl.edu


           Three hundred years after Chaucer's death, John Dryden called him "the father of English poetry"; now, three hundred years after that, his work is more closely and widely studied than ever before.  His best-known and final poem, The Canterbury Tales, is justly celebrated for its richness and variety, both literary—it includes romances, fabliaux, sermons, hagiographies, fantasies, satires, treatises, fables and exempla--and thematic, with its explorations of courtly love and scatology, piety and impiety, chivalry and pacifism, fidelity and adultery.  But even if Chaucer had never written the Tales, he would still be celebrated as the most versatile English writer of his era, for his dream visions, his prose translations, his short lyrics, and for the greatest of Middle English poems, Troilus and Criseyde.

          This semester we’ll take a tour through this remarkable career, surveying some of Chaucer’s work in these many genres.  We’ll begin with a pair of early poems, leap ahead to a selection of Canterbury Tales, and finish with Troilus.  Along the way we’ll touch on the work of some of his contemporaries, and we’ll also explore the ways in which Chaucer’s work has proven amenable—or susceptible—to contemporary critical approaches attentive to issues of gender, class, ideology, and language.

The literature of the Middle Ages has the sometimes baffling quality of seeming simultaneously foreign and familiar, since in this historically remote period the basic structures (and basic problems) of contemporary Western culture were in the making; appreciating and understanding medieval texts thus requires (and can help foster) some intellectual agility and an open mind.  All Chaucer reading will be in Middle English; previous experience with the language will be an asset, but is not required—plenty of experience will be provided.


Course Requirements: Two five- to six-page essays (±1500 words), 20% each; one Chaucerian imitation, 15%; course wiki entries, 10%; 2 mini-test/review/midterm exercises, 7½ % each; final exam, 15%; in-class quizzes, 5%. You will have multiple opportunities to hand in the essays, though everyone must submit at least one essay by 10/18.  I will post a non-exhaustive list of topics about ten days in advance of each essay due date, which can be found on the syllabus below; a useful overview can also be found here. Faithful (i.e., perfect) attendance is expected; quizzes may not be made up, and four or more unexcused absences will certainly have an adverse affect on your grade. (Further details on the English Department’s goals for 4000-level courses can be found here.) Plagiarism on papers, electronic or the old-fashioned kind, will mean an instant F for the assignment, my undying disapprobation, and possible disciplinary action by the university; please refer to this site for further details, and please please please ask me if you have any questions.

          Basic course materials (including class powerpoints) will be posted on MyGateway, while the syllabus website linked to my own homepage (http://www.umsl.edu/~gradyf) will be the main one for the course, with links to supplementary materials and other Chaucer-related sites on the web.


Required Texts:

·        The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue, ed. V.A. Kolve and Glending Olson (Norton Critical Edition), 2nd ed. W.W. Norton & Co, 2005 / 978-0-393-95287-6 [hence 15CT]

·        Dream Visions and Other Poems, ed. Kathyrn L. Lynch (Norton Critical Edition). W.W. Norton & Co, 2007 / 978-0-393-92588-3 [hence DV]

·        Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Barry Windeatt (Penguin Classics). Penguin, 2004 / 978-0-140-42421-8 [hence TC]

·        A selection of critical articles, available as pdfs on MyGateway



M AUG 22  Introduction: Thinking About the Middle Ages; Reading Middle English

W AUG 24 Really reading Middle English: The Book of the Duchess

·        “Chaucer’s Language,” 15CT xv-xix

·        The Book of the Duchess, ll. 1-290 (DV 3-13)


M AUG 29 How Not to Cheer Up Your Boss: The Book of the Duchess

·        The Book of the Duchess, ll. 291-1334 (DV 13-37)


W AUG 31 Back to Bed: The Parliament of Fowls

·        The Parliament of Fowls ll.1-308 (DV 93-105)





W SEP 7 Yes, That’s Where Valentine’s Day Comes From: The Parliament of Fowls

·        The Parliament of Fowls ll. 309-699 (DV 93-105)

·        Strohm, “The social and literary scene in England” (MyGateway)



M SEP 12 The Canterbury Tales: Pilgrimage, Estates Satire, Sentence and Solaas

·        General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (ll. 1-544, 715-858/15CT 3-16, 20-23)

·        Prologue excerpts from Piers Plowman (MyGateway)


W SEP 14 The Knight’s Tale: Philosophical romance?

·        Knight’s Tale I (ll. 859-1354/15CT 23-34)



M SEP 19 The Knight’s Tale:  The story of Theseus; the interrupted triumph

·        Knight’s Tale II-IV (ll.1355-3108/15CT 34-71)


W SEP 21 The Knight’s Tale: Symmetry, Irony, Chivalry

·        Muscatine, “Form, Texture, and Meaning in Chaucer's Knight's Tale

·        Miller's Prologue (ll. 3109-3186/15CT 71-73)


o   TH SEP 22 First Essay Due Date



M SEP 26 The Miller’s Tale: fabliau justice

·        Miller's Tale (ll. 3187-3854/15CT 73-88)

·        Patterson, “Chaucer” (MyGateway)


W SEP 28 The Reeve’s Tale: the quiting game; the structure of the Tales

·        Reeve’s Prologue and Tale (ll. 3855-4324/15CT 88-99)

·        First Midterm Review Exercise



M OCT 3 The Wife of Bath's Prologue: Wives versus clerks, round 1

·        Wife of Bath's Prologue (1-856/15CT 102-121)


W OCT 5 The Wife of Bath's Tale: Romance revisited

·        Wife of Bath's Tale (857-1264/15CT 121-30)



M OCT 10 The Wife of Bath's Tale: Romance revisited, revisited

·        John Gower, The Tale of Florent  (MyGateway)


W OCT 12 The Prioresse’s Tale: Piety and  impiety continued; medieval antisemitism

·        Prioresse's Tale (453-690/15CT 248-54)



M OCT 17 The Franklin’s Tale:  Love and "maistrie"

·        Franklin's Prologue and Tale (673-1624/15CT 212-233)


o   T OCT 18  Second Essay Due Date


W OCT 19  The Franklin’s Tale:  demandes d’amour

·        Kittredge, from “Chaucer’s Discussion of Marriage” (Mygateway)

·        Lipton, “Beyond Kittredge: Teaching Marriage in The Canterbury Tales” (Mygateway)



M OCT 24  The Pardoner's Tale: Sermon and self-representation; Radix malorum est cupiditas

·        Pardoner's Prologue and Tale (314-968/15CT 233-48)


W OCT 26 A Day with No Middle English!

·        Second Midterm Review Exercise

·        Chaucer Imitation Workshop

·        Cake!



M OCT 31 The Nun’s Priest’s Tale: Aesop meets Aquinas

·        Nun’s Priest’s Tale (2808-3446/15CT 270-84)


W NOV 2 Troilus and Criseyde I: Troy in the Middle Ages

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 1 (1.1-1092; TC 3-50)



M NOV 7 Troilus and Criseyde II: Pandering

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 2 (2.1-938; TC 51-89)


W NOV 9 Troilus and Criseyde II: Meet Cute

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 2 (2.939-1755; TC 89-122)



M NOV 14 Troilus and Criseyde III: Meet Secret

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 3 (3.1-980; TC 123-163)


o   T NOV 15 Third Essay Due Date


W NOV 16 Troilus and Criseyde: Aubes and Afterwards

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 3 (3.981-1820; TC 163-197)






M NOV 28 Troilus and Criseyde IV: “But…”

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 4 (4.1-1701; TC 199-267)


o   T NOV 29  Chaucer Imitations due


W NOV 30 Troilus and Criseyde V: Diomede Cuts In

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 5 (5.1-840; TC 269-304)



M DEC 5 Troilus and Criseyde: "Go, litel myn tragedye..."

·        Troilus and Criseyde Book 5(5.841-1869; TC 304-47)




o   M DEC 12  Fourth Essay Due Date


W DEC 14  FINAL EXAM   7:45AM-9:45AM




Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Access Services Office in 144 Millennium Student Center at 516-6554 as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are arranged in a timely fashion.