ENG404 Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

Fall 2011

Prof. Eileen Joy


Each student will give one oral presentation during the semester, and these presentations are meant to augment the historical and literary backgrounds to Chaucer’s times (fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England) and work. These presentations are meant to be informal and each student should plan to speak, while seated, for about fifteen minutes (no longer than twenty, PERIOD). I advise making a handout to pass around to all of us (we are 23 persons total), and PowerPoint presentations are NOT allowed, as I cannot emphasize enough how informal these presentations should be, while also being informative, detailed, and clear. Hand puppets are allowed, as is siege machinery.

In the table below, each student can see when they are making their presentation, on what subject, and where to find the most useful information on that subject:




Sep. 12: The Knight’s Tale

1. Aaron McCoy

1. Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

Text: The Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

2. Curt Hummel

2. Andreas de Capellanus, De Amore

Cicero, On Friendship

Sep. 19: The Miller’s Tale & The Reeve’s Tale

  1. Kyle Schwarzkopf

1. Fabliaux (literary genre)

2. Eric Kratschmer

2. John Wyclif and the Lollards

The Lollards

John Wyclif (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Sep. 26: The Man of Law’s Tale

1. Jake Bateman

1. Apollonius of Tyre

Story Summary

Elizabeth Archibald, Apollonius of Tyre: Medieval and Renaissance Themes and Variations (Cambridge, UK: D.S. Brewer, 1991)

2. Noelle Winkle

2. John Gower, Confessio Amantis

John Gower

Confessio Amantis (Wikipedia)

John Gower, “Tale of Canace and Machaire” (from Confessio Amantis)

Oct. 3: Wife of Bath’s Prologue & Tale

1. Jenny Parker

1. St Jerome on Marriage and Virginity

St. Jerome (Wikipedia)

excerpts from: Letter XXII to Eustochium + “Against Jovinian”

2. Clark Phillips

2. The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell (analogue)

Oct. 17: The Friar’s Tale & The Summoner’s Tale

1. Zach Casselman

1. Exemplum (literary genre)

2. Jordan Robertson

2. Anti-Fraternal Satire (literary genre)

Lynn H. Nelson, “The Mendicant Friars” (lecture)

Robert P. Miller, “Anti-Fraternal Texts,” in Chaucer: Sources and Backgrounds (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977)

Oct. 31: The Clerk’s Tale

1. Nicole Patton

1. Giovanni Boccaccio (author)

Giovanni Boccaccio (Wikipedia)

Decameron Web (Brown University)

Boccaccio, “The Story of Patient Griselda” (analogue)

2. Abby Kansal

2. Francis Petrarch (author)

Francis Petrarch (Wikipedia)

Petrarch’s Letter to Boccaccio

Petrarch, “A Tale of Wifely Obedience and Faith” (analogue)

Nov. 7: The Merchant’s Tale & The Franklin’s Tale

1. Emily Ragusa

1. “On Marriage,” from Le Roman de la Rose

Roman de la Rose (Wikipedia)

2. Bri Wiegand

2. Augustine, from “On Marriage and Concupiscence”

St. Augustine (Wikipedia)

3. Mike Adams

3. “Lydia and Pyrrhus,” from Boccaccio’s Decameron (analogue)

4. Alex Orlet

4. Marie de France (author)

Breton Lai (genre)

Marie de France (Wikipedia)

Marie de France, “Eliduc”

Nov. 14: The Pardoner’s Tale

Karri McCallister

The Pardoner’s Sexuality

Monica E. McAlpine, “The Pardoner’s Homosexuality and Why It Matters” (literary criticism)

C. David Benson, “Chaucer’s Pardoner: His Sexuality and Modern Critics” (literary criticism)

Nov. 28: The Prioress’s Tale

1. Courtney Marsh

1. Blood Libel Myth

2. Latrice Johnson

2. Little St. Hugh of Lincoln

Dec. 5: The Second Nun’s Tale & The Physician’s Tale

1. Ashley Kohlmiller

1. “The Life of Saint Cecelia” (from Caxton’s Golden Legend)

Hagiography (genre)

The Golden Legend

2. Sam Kinnear

2. Livy, “The History of Appius and Virginia”