Medieval Literature: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Section 01
Elise Broaddus
Course Description

(Cross-listed with MDVL_REN 4105)

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales introduce a broad range of medieval literature, revealing the surprising variety of genres and forms in the period, from the bawdy fabliaux, to the courtly romances, to the theological lessons of saints' lives.  With each of the tales told from the perspective of a person from a distinctly different identities--such as race, class and gender-- and by their social positions within society, Chaucer's tales allow us to study competing notions of community in the Middle Ages and the ways that social class shaped values and invites us to deploy an intersectional approach. We will study the tales in relation to both social and religious politics, and investigate such topics as governance and authority, the construction of "individuality, chivalry, fin amor ("courtly love"), gender and sexuality. The class will be framed by a 21st century global reworking of the tales by Patience Agbabi, a British poet of Nigerian decent, and by the Refugee Tales, an outreach project of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group inspired by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that uses the experiences of men held in immigration detention at the airport.The course will focus both on close analysis and on the ways that major historical and cultural issues shaped literary texts.