Major Authors

In this course we will read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a narrative and poetic collection that is variously stately, bawdy, moving, disturbing, and hilarious. It is also almost always thought-provoking and beautiful. We will read about drunken millers, man-hungry serial monogamists, alchemists who can’t stop blowing things up, glad-handing social climbers, bitter provincial bureaucrats, and cooks with disturbingly lax standards of personal hygiene (and more). These pilgrims will in turn tell stories of how nerdy scholars can get the girl while simultaneously humiliating thuggish rivals, why crows are black and can no longer speak, what one thing all mortal women most desire, and whether you can seek out Death without dying yourself (and more). No background in medieval literature or Middle English is expected; enthusiasm for challenging but rewarding material very much is, and will be repaid with interest.