HUM-H390 — Saints, Sinners and Swords: Medieval European Literature — winter 2017–2018

This table shows what you should do for each classday; all work should be completed before the start of class on the date for which it’s listed. To put it another way, tests are listed on the day they will be given and assignments on the day they are due.

Week Six
Monday, 15 January Convo Schedule Today our class will meet from 2:05 to 2:45. I strongly encourage you to attend the convocation speaker in Hatfield Hall from 11:05 to 12:30.
Read The General Prologue (starts on page 3 in our edition) from The Canterbury Tales.
Assignment After reading the first 18 lines in our translation, visit and read the corresponding text in the original Middle English and also listen to the recording of it being read with appropriate pronunciation. Then your assignment is to (1) write down any one word that has changed in spelling, but is clearly a word used in modern English, and (2) write down any one word that is clearly different in pronunciation in Middle English as compared to Modern English, but is identifiable or understandable by someone who only knows Modern English. You must indicate the line number for each. Write this assignment down and bring it to class to turn in.
Think about What is it that prompts people to go on pilgrimages, according to the Prologue? What information is included in the Prologue, and is there anything you might expect to find in the prologue, but don’t? Based on the Prologue, whose tales do you think you might enjoy most, and whose least? Can you think of any logical categories to group the pilgrims into, and what are they? What are the rules and the prize for their competition? If you were going to do a remake of this story set in modern times, what professions or characters might you use? Where might you have your pilgrims travelling to, and by what means? What might the rules and prize be?
Tuesday, 16 January Project One due date. The project one due date has been moved to Thursday.
Read The Knights Tale (pages 25 through 80 in our edition).
Think about Does this tale remind you of any other things we’ve read? What is your opinion of Theseus’ idea for settling the dispute between Arcita and Palamon? How you you react as reader to the long descriptions at the start of part III? Does Palamon’s prayer to Venus remind you of anything we’ve read in this class? How does the Knight, as narrator, deal with telling of Emily’s bath in the temple to Diana? What is the conflict in this story? In what ways can this conflict be resolved? What is Emily’s preference in this matter, and how (and when) do we know? Do you find anything funny in this tale?
Thursday, 18 January Project One due date. The project one due date has been moved to today from Tuesday.
Attendance is optional today but please don’t skip just because you don’t have your paper done; if that’s the case you can turn it in on Friday. The only reason to skip is if you have elected not to read the tales for today. In that case you can turn it in on Friday as well.
Required Reading Everyone needs to read the prologue to the Miller’s Tale
Optional Reading under certain circumstances The Miller’s Tale, The Reeve’s Prologue and Tale, The Cook’s Prologue and Tale. These are optional since, if they were a film, it would get an R rating for adult situations and cursing. I would describe them as quite funny in a number of ways, but a bit coarse in places. So, if you think you're going to be disturbed or offended, you may skip them. Reading the Miller’s Prologue may give you an inkling of what follows.
Think about There are many ways in which the Knight’s tale and the Miller’s tale different. Can you think of any in which they are alike? Is there anything in the Miller’s tale which can help us understand anything about what Chaucer’s intended audience (his implied reader) might have been like? Is there anything ironic about Nicholas using the story of a flood to facilitate his scheme? How do notions of consent relate to the the Miller’s Tale (and also the Reeve’s Tale)? What characters in the Miller’s Tale come out better? Worse? In The Reeve’s Tale, how do you react to the use of vernacular language by our translator? (If you are a bit disoriented by it, reading those passages of dialogue fast may help.) Again, what do you think about the idea of consent in relation to this tale? Do you find this tale believable? Why or why not? Do you feel that any characters come out advantaged or disadvantaged in the end?
Friday, 19 January Read The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale.
Think about What do you make of the fact that the Wife of Bath’s Prologue is longer than her Tale? What images or perceptions of women is the Wife of Bath arguing against in her Prologue? Do you think her arguments are effective or not? How does she meet her fifth husband (Jankin) and how long after the death of her fourth husband does she marry him, and (most importantly) what relationship is there between the incident with his book and the rest of the prologue? Why do you think elves are mentioned at the start of the Wife of Bath’s Tale? Do you like the ending of the Tale? Why or why not? Can you find any relationship between the Prologue and the Tale?
Assignment! Based on her Prologue, as well as the tale that she tells and how she tells it, what three words would you use to describe the Wife of Bath? Bring them to class, written down on a sheet of paper with your name to turn in.