F. GRADY                                                                                                                                                                     SPRING 2013

455 LUCAS                                                                                                                                                                   T-TH 11:00-12:15

                   516-5592                                                                                                                                                                       JC PENNEY 64

T-Th 2:00-4:30 & by appointment                                                                                                                                    [#14285]




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 poem, The Canterbury Tales, is justly celebrated for its richness and

variety, both literary--the Tales include fabliaux, romances, 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.  At the same time, The Canterbury

Tales has also routinely been the target of censorship--it happened as recently as 1995 in Eureka, Illinois (about 175 miles from St. Louis). 

This semester we'll study those Tales in as much depth as we can manage, to try to figure out what might make them so compelling, or,

alternately, so disturbing.  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, 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), 15 and 20%; two Chaucerian imitations, 15% each; 3-4 wiki entries, 10%;

final exam, 20%; class grade (attendance, participation, quizzes), 5%. You will have multiple opportunities to hand in the essays and imitations,

though everyone must submit the portrait assignment due 2/8 and the first essay due 2/20; I will distribute a non-exhaustive list of topics about ten

days in advance of each due date, with copies also posted on the web.   Faithful (i.e., perfect) attendance is expected; quizzes may not be made up, and

five or more absences from class 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, 2nd ed., ed.

Robert Boenig & Andrew Taylor (Broadview, 2012; ISBN: 9781554811069 / 1554811066). Hence BCT.  Really

 any complete Canterbury Tales in Middle English will do, but this is the edition I’ve ordered.

                   A selection of critical articles, available as pdfs on MyGateway (indicated by *).



T  JAN 22  Introduction: Thinking About the Middle Ages; Reading Middle English


TH  JAN 24 Really reading Middle English: The Manciple’s Tale

                   The Manciple’s Tale (BCT 391-96)



T  JAN 29  England in the Fourteenth Century; The Canterbury Tales

                   General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (I.1-444/BCT 47-55)

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


TH JAN 31  The Canterbury Tales: Pilgrimage, Estates Satire, Sentence and Solaas

                   General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (I.445-858/BCT 55-61)

                   Prologue and excerpts from Piers Plowman (MyGateway and BCT 480-82)



T  FEB 5 General Prologue: Governaunce and the structure of the Tales

*Donaldson,”Chaucer the Pilgrim” (MyGateway)

Portrait development workshop


TH  FEB 7  The Knight’s Tale: Philosophical romance?

Knight’s Tale I (I.859-1354/BCT 63-69)


                   F FEB 8  Portrait imitation due



T FEB 12  The Knight’s Tale:  The story of Theseus; the interrupted triumph

Knight’s Tale II-IV (I.1355-3108/BCT 70-95)


TH FEB 14 The Knight’s Tale: Symmetry, Irony, Chivalry

Muscatine, “Form, Texture, and Meaning in Chaucer's Knight's Tale(MyGateway)



M FEB 18 First Essay Due Date


T FEB 19  The Miller's Prologue: "ernest" & "game"; a new kind of order

Miller's Prologue (I 3109-3186/BCT 97-98)


TH FEB 21 No Class--Snowmageddon



T  FEB 26 The Miller’s Tale: fabliau justice

                   Miller's Tale (I 3187-3854/BCT 98-108)


          TH  FEB 28 The Reeve’s Tale: the quiting game

                   Reeve’s Prologue and Tale (I 3855-4324/BCT 109-16)

                   *Patterson, “Chaucer” (MyGateway)



T  MAR 5 The Man of Law’s Tale: Hagiography and romance

                   Man of Law's Prologue and Tale I & II (II 1-875/BCT 121-37)


TH  MAR 7  The Man of Law’s Tale:  Hagiography and romance and feminism?

Man of Law's Tale III (II 876-1190/BCT 137-42)



T  MAR 12  The Wife of Bath's Prologue:Wives versus clerks, round 1

Wife of Bath's Prologue (III 1-856/BCT 147-61)


TH  MAR 14 The Wife of Bath's Tale: Romance revisited

 Wife of Bath's Tale (III 857-1264/BCT 163-68)



T  MAR 19  The Wife of Bath's Tale: Romance revisited, revisited; Friar’s Prologue and Tale

*John Gower, The Tale of Florent (MyGateway); Friar's Prologue and Tale (III 1265-1664/BCT 169-175)


W MAR 20 Second Essay Due Date


TH  MAR 21 Friar and Summoner: Chaucerian (and other) anticlericalisms

Summoner's Prologue and Tale (III 1665-2294/ BCT 176-86)






T  APR 2  The Clerk’s Tale: Wives versus clerks, round 2

Clerk's Tale (IV 1-1212/BCT 189-208)


TH  APR 4  The Clerk’s Tale: Petrarch vs. Boccaccio vs. Chaucer vs. Chaucer



T   APR 9 The Merchant’s Tale: “wo that is in mariage

                   Merchant’s Prologue and Tale (IV 1213-2418/BCT 209-228)


                    W APR 10 Clerk’s Tale imitation due


TH  APR 11  The Franklin’s Tale:  Love and "maistrie"

                   Franklin's Prologue and Tale (V 673-1624/BCT 243-58)



T   APR 16: The Franklin’s Tale:  demandes d’amour

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

                   *Lipton, “Beyond Kittredge: Teaching Marriage in The Canterbury Tales”


TH  APR 18 The Pardoner's Tale: Sermon and self-representation; Radix malorum est cupiditas

Pardoner's Prologue and Tale (VI 329-968/BCT 267-76)



          T APR 23  Shipman and Prioresse: Piety and  impiety continued; medieval antisemitism

Shipman's Tale (VII 1-452/BCT 279-85)

Prioresse's Tale (VII 453-690/BCT 287-91)


TH APR 25  Thopas and Melibee: Chaucerian signature

Prologue and Tale of Sir Thopas (VII 691-966/BCT 292-96)

Tale of Melibee (VII 967-1200, 1769-1888/BCT 297-307, 325-28)

                   “Chaucer’s Life and Times” (BCT 9-14)


          F APR 26 Third Essay Due Date



T APR 30  The Monk’s Tale: De casibus tragedy & its discontents

 Monk's Prologue and Tale (VII 1889-2766/BCT 329-45)


TH MAY 2 The Nun’s Priest’s Tale: Aesop meets Aquinas

Nun's Priest's Prologue and Tale (VII 2767-3446/BCT 347-59)



                   M May 6  Monk’s Tale / Melibee imitations due


T MAY 7  The Parson’s Tale: No more fables

Parson's Prologue and Tale (excerpts) (X 1-175/BCT 399-406, plus your favorite sin!)

Retractions (BCT -461)


F MAY 10 Fourth Essay Due Date

                   F May 10  Parson’s Tale imitation due



T MAY 14  Final Exam, 10:00-12:00



***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.***