English 465/MEMS 465

Pilgrim token with image of St. Thomas a Becket, British Museum

English 465/MEMS 465
Winter 2005

Canterbury Tales

Karla Taylor
Email: kttaylor@umich.edu
Phone: 765-6363
Office: 3220 Angell Hall

Hours: M 11-12, W 9-10, and by appointment

Andreea Boboc
Email: aboboc@umich.edu

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is an anthology of stories varying in style and genre, told by similarly diverse fictional narrators. Including both the stateliness of the Knight’s Tale and the ribaldry of the Miller’s Tale, it creates a new audience in English for a literature simultaneously playful and serious. We will read most of the Tales, paying attention to the work’s qualities as an innovative story collection. Central questions will include: How does the Canterbury Tales address its audience? What is the purpose of its interpretative openness? What relations develop between literary style and social position? We will focus especially on narrative voices and the effects they create in their readers; audio tapes will help us hear these voices in Middle English. One or two short papers, one longer paper, and a final examination. This course fulfills the Pre-1600 requirement for English concentrators.

Texts (available from Shaman Drum):
Benson, et al., The Canterbury Tales Complete (required)
Davis, et al., A Chaucer Glossary (optional)
Unless otherwise noted, all readings are from The Canterbury Tales; in addition to assignments noted on the schedule below, there will be further short historical and critical assignments from time to time.

Geoffrey Chaucer Homepage, referred to below as GCH, your most important resource
audio materials
Middle English Dictionary

Jan. 5 Introduction; General Prologue
Jan. 7 General Prologue, ll. 1-100
–Introduction, pp. xxvi-xxix (“Language and Versification,” through end of section on “Pronunciation”); study the chart of vowel sounds on p. xxviii, which you should learn as quickly as possible. Familiarize yourself with the apparatus at the back of the edition, including a bibliography, and most important the explanatory notes starting on p. 333 and the glossary starting on p. 483.
–Web practice: GCH > Teach Yourself to Read Chaucer > Introduction and Lesson 1

Jan. 10 General Prologue 1-269
–Introduction, pp. xiii-xxv, up to “Language and Versification”; also read pp. 3-6 in the introduction to the Canterbury Tales
–Web practice: GCH Lesson 2. Begin Lesson 7 and begin following along as we go; take the quizzes. Find section on General Prologue (Home > Canterbury Tales > General Prologue) and consult as necessary.

Jan. 12 General Prologue, 1-444
–Introduction, pp. xxix-xxxvi (ME grammar. Pay particular attention to pronouns, which can be tricky)
–Web practice: GCH Lesson 5

Jan. 14 General Prologue, 1-622
–Introduction, pp. xxxvi-xxxviii (Versification). Study the scansion on p. xxviii carefully
–Web practice: GCH Lesson 3

Jan. 19 General Prologue, to end. Scansion exercise due
Jan. 21 General Prologue. Web: GCH Lesson 4
Jan. 24 General Prologue in class; start reading the Knight’s Tale, even though we won’t start discussing it yet in class. It’s long and somewhat more difficult than the General Prologue, and you will need to reread it.

Jan. 26 General Prologue; Knight’s Tale, Parts I and II. Keep reading, Parts III and IV
–Web practice: GCH Lesson 8 (take the quizzes) and section on Knight’s Tale

Jan. 28 Knight’s Tale, Parts III and IV
Jan. 31 Knight’s Tale; Miller’s Prologue
Feb. 2 Miller’s Prologue and Tale. Web: GCH Lesson 9; section on Miller’s Prologue and Tale

Feb. 4 Reeve’s Prologue and Tale Web: GCH Reeve’s Prologue and Tale
Feb. 7 Joint: Cook’s Prologue and Tale; Man of Law’s Introduction. PAPER DUE (5 pp.)
–Web: GCH Cook’s Prologue and Tale. Start reading the Man of Law’s Prologue and Tale—it’s long, so plan ahead, even though we won’t get to it in class today

Feb. 9 Man of Law’s Prologue, and Tale GCH: ML Intro, Prol, Tale
Feb. 11 Wife of Bath’s Prologue; GCH: WB Prol
Feb. 14 Wife of Bath’s Prologue
Feb. 16 Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale; GCH: WB Prol and Tale
Feb. 18 Friar’s Prologue and Tale; Summoner’s Prologue and Tale; GCH: FrProl and T, SumProl and T

Feb. 21 Clerk’s Prologue and Tale; GCH: Clerk’s Prol and T
Feb. 23 Clerk’s Prologue and Tale
Feb. 25 Clerk’s Prologue and Tale
March 7 Merchant’s Prologue and Tale; GCH: MerProl and T
March 9 Merchant’s Prologue and Tale; Squire’s Tale; GCH: Sq Intro and T
March 11 Franklin’s Prologue and Tale; GCH FrankProl and T
March 14 Franklin’s Prologue and Tale
March 16 Joint: Franklin’s Tale; Physician’s Tale; Pardoner’s Prologue; GCH PhysT
March 18 Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale; GCH Pard Intro, Prol, and T
March 21 Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale
March 23 Shipman’s Tale; GCH Teach Yourself Lesson 9; ShipT. Revel in your superior ability to read Middle English!

March 25 Prioress’s Prologue and Tale; GCH PriorProl and T
March 28 Prioress’s Prologue and Tale; Prologue and Tale of Sir Thopas; GCH Prol and T of ST

March 30 Prologue and Tale of Melibee (selections); GCH Prol Mel
April 1 Monk’s Prologue and Tale; Nun’s Priest’s Prologue ; GCH MoProl and T
April 4 Nun’s Priest’s Prologue and Tale; GCH NPProl and T. Prospectus due

April 6 Nun’s Priest’s Prologue and Tale
April 8 Second Nun’s Prologue and Tale; GCH 2NProl and T
April 11 Canon’s Yeoman’s Prologue and Tale; GCH CYProl and T
April 13 Manciple’s Prologue and Tale; GCH ManProl and T
April 15 Parson’s Prologue and Tale (selections). PAPER DUE (8 pages). GCH ParsProl and T

April 18 Retraction; GCH Chaucer’s Retraction
April 26 Final examination, 1:30-3:30 pm

Course Requirements
Two essays (5 pages; 8 pages, plus a prospectus) 1/6, 1/3
Quizzes, in-class writing, short assignments 1/6
Oral performance and commentary 1/6
Final examination 1/6
All papers, performances, and exams are required for a passing grade. If you turn in an essay late, your grade will be lowered by one level (B+ becomes B) for each day it is late. I accept excuses for late work in exceptional circumstances (e.g., you have been on your deathbed, but recover). For in-class writing and quizzes, which are integrated into the day’s class, make-ups are not possible; this is also generally true for the short out-of-class writing I will assign from time to time.

Written Assignments and Essays: All out-of-class assignments should be typed or computer-printed, double-spaced with one-inch margins on white 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper. I follow the standard definition of a page: 250 words. Always make an extra copy of the assignment to keep for your own records before handing in the original. Out-of-class assignments are due in class on the designated day. Do hand them to me; don’t put them in my departmental mailbox or in the plastic holder outside my office door. If you must turn work in out of class, you may at your own risk slip it under the office door.
In your formal essays I expect you to follow a standard style for quotation, citation and other matters of presentation. The two most widely used for literary essays are MLA style and Chicago style. Either is acceptable. I strongly urge you to acquire either The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the Chicago Manual of Style for use in this course, and indeed all your formal writing.

Oral Performance: The oral performance with commentary is designed to engage you closely with Chaucer’s Middle English. Because Chaucer is a wonderfully comic poet, this assignment is a different, fun approach to reading and interpreting literature, and a terrific way to solidify your language skills. You will interpret orally—perform with your voice––about 25-30 lines in Middle English and then comment briefly on their interest or significance. The emphasis in your reading is on interpretative expression. You may do this privately (to me in my office) or publicly (to the class). Public performances must be of reading appropriate to the schedule; they will thus be limited and by prior arrangement only. If you are interested in this option, reserve a slot early. I will ask you to sign up for a time between the first and second essays (shortly after we return from Winter Break). If you ask me ahead of time, I am always happy to record your passage on a tape you supply; I try hard to make the recording correct, but as deadpan as possible, so that you supply the interpretative expression. I will supply more information later in the term. In the meantime, see below for information on audio materials.

Attendance and Participation: Attendance is required, although you will have an allowance of three absences, no questions asked. Only exceptional circumstances excuse further absence; otherwise, excessive absence will affect your course grade substantially. Please note that this class meets Fridays as well as Mondays and Wednesdays. I generally reserve the right to adjust final grades (up or down) by one full mark (e.g., from C to B) according to your attendance and participation, but will go further in cases that warrant it. I’ll pass around an attendance sheet every day; it’s your responsibility to sign it. Attendance also includes presence; that is, you should not leave the class to replenish your supply of food or drink, to use your cell-phone. This class is a cell-phone-free zone. Participation in discussion and recitation will contribute substantially to both understanding (yours and that of others) and your performance in the course.

General Information: This is an introduction to Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales. I do not assume any prior experience with Chaucer or other Middle English texts; part of the purpose of the course is to allow you to learn to read Middle English well and with pleasure. I will lecture, but not exclusively; we will also discuss the readings and some of the issues they raise, and throughout the course well will devote some class time to reading the text aloud and attending to the sounds and meanings of Middle English. I will give occasional quizzes, in-class writing assignments, and short out-of-class assignments; in the beginning especially (but also later, as the needs to the class dictate) these are designed to help you with understanding the language. As we go along, they will more often ask you to focus on interpretative questions. Reading assignments should be read and contemplated before class according to the schedule above; I will give explicit directions if we get off schedule. Always bring your text to class.
We will begin very slowly, using the General Prologue to get acquainted with Middle English. There is a collection of audio CDs (also cassettes if you prefer) in University Reserves; I encourage you strongly to use them. The tapes are a handy and fun way to reread the texts and get used to the sounds of Chaucer’s 14th-century English—a wonderfully flexible poetic language. They will also prove invaluable as aids for your own oral performance.
I invite you to come talk with me during my office hours at any point in the term, even if there’s no paper to write or discuss; there’s nothing I love more than talking about Chaucer. If you can’t make it during my regular hours, please talk to me after class to arrange another time.

A Brief Note About Plagiarism:
Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty that includes the following practices: 1) copying, quoting, or paraphrasing documents of any kind (dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, books, study guides, web documents, other students’ papers, etc.) without proper and explicit citation of the source; a citation requires, according to the style handbook you use, a parenthetical note in the text, footnote, or endnote (including the full name of the source, the publisher, place and date of publication, and page numbers); 2) use of another’s words without quotation marks around them, or use of another’s ideas (even when paraphrased or modified) without proper and explicit citation of the source; 3) turning in another’s work as one’s own or asking another to compose an essay either in full or in part.
A student who plagiarizes will automatically receive an “E” for the course, in addition to any actions taken by the appropriate university judicial committee. For more information on academic dishonesty and its consequences, consult the section of the University Bulletin entitled “Academic Conduct,” and the more practical English Department discussion of plagiarism, which you can consult at http://www.lsa.umich.edu/english/undergraduate/plagNote.asp
The same document will be available through the course website for English 465.

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