2019 - 2020
|0626-3883-01||Chaucer: Dream Visions and Troilus and Criseyde|
|FACULTY OF HUMANITIES | ENGLISH|
Chaucer: Dream Visions and Troilus and Criseyde
BA Seminar (2019–2020) / Dr. Jonathan Stavsky
Best known today as the author of the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer began his career by writing experimental dream visions that probe the nature of love, loss, poetic fame, and worldly mutability. As his voice gained maturity, he embarked on his first major project: Troilus and Criseyde, the story of a tragic love affair that unfolds against the background of the Trojan War, among the most complex and rewarding long narrative poems in the English language. A few years later, he produced the Legend of Good Women, an unfinished collection of stories proposing—or purporting—to vindicate women from misogynist stereotypes.
This course is an opportunity to read these works from cover to cover, together with several of their sources and selected critical articles illustrating some of the main approaches that scholars have brought to bear on them. No prior knowledge of Middle English is required. However, all texts written in this language will be studied in the original, and you will quickly be expected to become proficient in the grammar, core vocabulary, and pronunciation of its London dialect, the basis of the early modern literary standard.
Additional courses on pre-1700 literature are recommended but not required.
NOTE: This seminar may be taken as an advanced course (121). Students who were enrolled in “Chaucer: Early Works and Troilus and Criseyde” (0626292401) in 2017–2018 are not allowed to sign up for it because the reading material for both courses overlaps.
Required Edition of Chaucer
In advance of the semester, you must get hold of the standard edition of Chaucer’s works, which comes equipped with glosses, footnotes, and explanatory notes that are designed to help you read and understand his poetry in the original Middle English:
No other editions of Chaucer are permitted. You will not be able to participate in class discussion or write your papers unless you have access to this book. Several copies are available at the Central Library, but not enough for everyone. The most convenient option is to order one from abroad or buy it second-hand. I have found Blackwells.co.uk to be an affordable and reliable option, but you may choose to look for other bargains here.
All other required texts will be made available on the course website.
To pass this course, you must attend the required number of classes, submit all papers on time, and receive a passing grade for each.