From Approaches to Teaching Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, 2nd ed., ed. Frank Grady and Peter Travis (MLA, 2013)


Aids to Teaching

Web Sites

Trying to capture the state of the constantly evolving World Wide Web in printed form is inevitably a quixotic exercise; webmasters move or retire, sites change servers, and every webpage is susceptible to what web editor Paul Halsall calls “link rot.” At the same time, the web does live up to its name—find your way to one of the sites described below, and you will encounter links to many of the others.

Georgetown University’s The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies ( and the ORB: On-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies ( are perhaps the most venerable of the general medieval studies sites.  The Labyrinth is one of the most extensive aggregator sites, collecting links to various kinds of medieval studies materials in over forty categories, from “Archaeology” and “Architecture” to “Welsh” and Women.” ORB includes the Internet Medieval Sourcebook (, which is focused on primary texts —literary, legal, historical, documentary, theological and ecclesiastical—in Latin and in multiple medieval vernaculars, and typically also in English translation. Other full-text sites include the Online Medieval and Classical Library ( and the site formerly known as the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia; the latter, one of the first substantial digital humanities sites of use to medievalists, is no longer maintained in its original form (though most of the texts have migrated and can still be accessed through their main VIRGO catalogue:[source_facet][]=Digital+Library).   The resources of the Middle English Dictionary are fully available on-line in the form of the Middle English Compendium (

Sites specific to Chaucer having been growing in number and breadth. The New Chaucer Society (currently; may change by fall 2012) maintains a lightly annotated but substantial list of links to texts, webpages, multimedia sites, other medieval studies sites, reference materials, images, texts, journals, and organizations. The Chaucer MetaPage  ( has now been around for more than a dozen years; it offers a somewhat shorter list but fuller accounts of the resources described, and it contains annotated links to individual instructors’ Chaucer pages, including such well-built link-aggregating sites as Anniina Jokinen's Luminarium Chaucer pages (, Dan Kline’s Geoffrey Chaucer Online: The Electronic Canterbury Tales (, and David Wilson-Okamura’s (  The Geoffrey Chaucer Page (or “Harvard Chaucer Page”: is possibly the most extensive (and most linked-to) resource for teachers of the Tales-- if only because it provides full interlinear translations of every tale (except the Parson’s, which is offered in Modern English only) in addition to its generous supplementary materials on language, literature, and historical and cultural topics. Side-by-side Middle English and Modern English texts of the Tales can also be found at the Librarius website (

            Bibliographies, too, proliferate, and the sites just described supply many links.  Three of the most substantial annotated on-line bibliographies are the Essential Chaucer Bibliography (, which offers a selection of  over 900 items (400+ specific to the Canterbury Tales) from 1900-1984 in an extensively cross-referenced and well indexed but not searchable format; the fully searchable Chaucer Bibliography Online (, which includes material from 1975 to the present, much of it drawn from the annual bibliographies published Studies in the Age of Chaucer since 1979; and The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30) (, which permits keyword searches and  contains a browseable subject index to the nearly 800 articles published in the journal through 1995. The Chaucer Review itself  (2000- ) is available through Project Muse, as is Studies in the Age of Chaucer (2008-).



Video and Audio Materials


Many of the sites listed in the previous section include links to audio resources for the study of  Chaucer’s language: the Chaucer Metapage, for example,  features “The Criyng and the Soun” (, a collection of brief Middle English selections from the Canterbury Tales, Troilus, and shorter works in RealAudio format, while the Harvard Chaucer Page offers a pronunciation guide and a “Teach Yourself Chaucer” series of lessons that include some audio files.  A newer Harvard site is METRO (Middle English Teaching Resources Online;, a “virtual classroom” providing “guided, interactive instruction on the linguistic, stylistic, and editorial features of some of late medieval England's greatest texts” (by Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, and the Wakefield Master).   The multiple levels (or “platforms,” in keeping with the transit metaphor) move deliberately from shorter to longer passages with careful exposition of sound, meter, grammar, syntax and style, and plenty of opportunities for self-testing.  The site also includes a basic illustrated introduction to the editing of medieval texts.

            More substantial recordings of the Tales are the province of The Chaucer Studio (, a joint project at BYU and the University of Adelaide founded in 1986.  Here one can purchase audio recordings in Middle English of most of the Tales and the early poems, available on CD for $10 on average and downloadable for half-price.

            Between 1998-2000 the BBC produced Emmy- and BAFTA-award winning animated adaptations of some of the Canterbury Tales, which are available on VHS and DVD; each 30-minute episode tells three (or four) tales and preserves some of the frame narrative (in claymation), and offers both Modern English and Middle English soundtracks.  The programs are rated “grade 9 and up” and include The Nun's Priest's Tale, the Knight's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale; The Merchant's Tale, the Pardoner's Tale and the Franklin's Tale; and The Squire's Tale (much altered), the “Canon's Servant's Tale,” and the Miller's and the Reeve's Tales.

            Several short educational films that offer introductions to the Tales or to Chaucer’s life and language are still available, albeit not inexpensively, from Films for the Humanities and Social Sciences (; these include A Prologue to Chaucer, Early English Aloud and Alive, Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, and The Canterbury Tales (with accompanying  CD-ROM).



Electronic and Multimedia Resources


The internet has made images of medieval life and culture widely available, and most of the sites noted above contain links of interest to instructors who would like to supplement their teaching of the Canterbury Tales with reference to contemporary illuminations, maps, relevant locations, and the material traces of life in Chaucer’s era. In addition, research sites, museums, and libraries can supply images of the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales. The

Digital Scriptorium ( hosts images of a half-dozen such MSS, including several pages from Ellesmere, while the whole of Oxford, Corpus Christi College MS 198, an early 15th century manuscript of the Tales, can be found at Early Manuscripts at Oxford University (  Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, The Classic Text: Traditions and Interpretations ( offers a tour through medieval manuscripts and both early and later printed editions of the Tales.  The British Library online exhibit Treasures in Full: Caxton’s Chaucer ( contains complete image sets of William Caxton’s two editions of the Tales, from 1476 and 1483.  And still available is The World of Chaucer: Medieval Books and Manuscripts (, an online exhibit prepared by the library at the University of Glasgow to coincide with the 2004 New Chaucer Society Congress there. The Canterbury Tales Project [], currently at the University of Birmingham, is in the process of producing CD-ROM and online digital facsimiles and transcriptions of pre-1500 MSS of the Tales suitable for research purposes; some samples are available online.

             Chaucernet has long been the most active listserv for Chaucer studies, a forum that includes “professors, graduate students, undergraduates, and others from all over the world who either specialize in--or are merely interested in--Chaucer, his works, and related topics.“  It is free to join (, archived back to 1995, and frequently touches on pedagogical issues.  The MLA Division on Chaucer also sponsors an online forum for MLA members (