English 555: Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and Shorter Poems

Prof. M. Hanly
Fall 2003

Tuesday 12:00-1:15 Office: Avery 471 tel. 335-4081 Office Hrs.: T-W-Th 11:00-12:00

· Course Web Site: http://www.wsu.edu/~hanly/chaucer/Troilus /Troilus .html

· Required Text: Larry Benson, et al., The Riverside Chaucer, paperback ed.(Oxford, 1988).

· Methods of Evaluation

Reports: All students will be responsible for two in-class reports on critical articles. The presentations are informal and intended to provoke discussion (not terror); they should last between 5 and 10 minutes, and should be accompanied by a 1-page typed précis of the material covered. The reports are each worth 10% of the final grade.

Written exercises: From time to time I will assign a one-page explication de texte of a given Chaucer passage, to inspire pointed discussion during the next class period. These assignments will be worth 15% of the final grade.

Paper: Students will write a ca. 20-page research paper in which they will apply a critical practice of their choice to any aspect of the Chaucer texts we cover in this seminar (e.g., genre, meter, historical context, class, gender, paleography or codicology). It is worth (obviously) 65% of the final grade. You may wax Marxist, Feminist, Cultural Studyish, New Historicist--it's up to you. The only thing I'll insist upon is that the paper focus upon a text or texts and not remain in the stratosphere throughout. We'll talk about various trends in Chaucer criticism early on, so you'll have ample time to find what appeals to you; then you'll have to get a bibliography going (I can help). The website I have assembled for this class is a pretty good place to get a start.


Critical Bibliography: As part of the paper assignment, students will prepare critical bibliographies on their research subjects. If time permits, you will present your findings, along with a copy of the critical bibliography, in a final oral presentation in the last weeks of the semester. I will then post the results on our website as a service to Chaucerians worldwide.

Texts to be covered in this class: We will focus mainly on Troilus and Criseyde, dedicating a good half of the total course periods to it. As introduction to this mature work, however, we will consider some earlier poems: The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowles, as well as some of the shorter poems such as "Adam Scriveyn," "Trouthe," and the "Complaint unto his Purse." Since a good many of you will not be familiar with Middle English, we should begin by reading the linguistic introduction to the Riverside Chaucer (esp. xxix-xxxiv); those of you unfamiliar with Chaucer's life and oeuvre should also peruse the biographical introduction in the text (xv-xxix).

On lecture and (or vs.) discussion: The distance in time and resultant "foreignness" of Chaucer's poetry makes it difficult for newcomers to the material to make the sort of theoretical inquiries they might make with other, more recent , texts. Therefore, we will need to spend a certain amount of class time each week on the explication of linguistic, historical and cultural matters before we will be ready to run with the stuff. So my method will be to begin by presenting essential information and by "rounding up the usual suspects," as it were; then I will turn you all loose to ask whatever questions you might have or to bring up whatever critical matters you might be considering for your papers or have encountered in your reading for oral reports, etc. I have set up an e-mailing list (name and password both "Troilus ") to further our possibilities for discussion. This is all to say that I am not at all resistant to disputation; au contraire. We'll cover the nuts and bolts beforehand, that's all


Schedule of Assignments

i Aug. 26 Class policies, introduction to the scribal medium

28 The Book of the Duchess

ii Sept. 2 The Book of the Duchess

4 The Book of the Duchess

iii 9 The House of Fame Begin Oral Reports I

11 The House of Fame

iv 16 The House of Fame

18 The Parliament of Fowls

v 23 The Parliament of Fowls

25 The Parliament of Fowls

vi 30 Troilus Book I

Oct. 2 Troilus Book I

vii 7 Troilus Book I Begin Oral Reports II

9 Troilus Book I

viii 14 Troilus Book I

16 Troilus Book II

ix 21 Troilus Book II

23 Troilus Book II

x 28 Troilus Book III *Begin Research Reports

30 Troilus Book III

xi Nov. 4 Troilus Book III

6 Troilus Book III

xii 11 Veterans' Day: Holiday

13 Troilus Book IV

xiii 18 Troilus Book IV

20 Troilus Book IV

Research Paper due

xiv November 24-28: Thanksgiving Holiday

xv Dec. 2 Troilus Book V

4 Troilus Book V

xvi 9 Troilus Book V

11 Troilus Book V

* If time permits