Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

How did a civil servant in charge of customs accounting for the port of London become the “Father of English Literature,” and the first person to be buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey? Although he wrote many works, it was probably his last great unfinished book that elevated Geoffrey Chaucer to that status. The Canterbury Tales is a tour de force: wise, funny, reverent, rude, smart, and impeccably constructed. In it, Chaucer writes virtually every form of story or poetry that existed at the time, and some would argue he did it better than anyone else. Along the way, he questions government, society, gender roles, religion, and the role of storytelling itself. Shakespeare counted him a role model, and most of what we think of as modern storytelling arose from the way Chaucer constructed the Tales.

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How did a civil servant in charge of customs accounting for the port of London become the “Father of English Literature,” and the first person to be buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey? Although he wrote many works, it was probably his last great unfinished book that elevated Geoffrey Chaucer to that status. The Canterbury Tales is a tour de force: wise, funny, reverent, rude, smart, and impeccably constructed. In it, Chaucer writes virtually every form of story or poetry that existed at the time, and some would argue he did it better than anyone else. Along the way, he questions government, society, gender roles, religion, and the role of storytelling itself. Shakespeare counted him a role model, and most of what we think of as modern storytelling arose from the way Chaucer constructed the Tales.

This course will guide you through the Canterbury Tales, illuminating the historical and literary contexts that made the work a satirical masterpiece in its time, and exploring the themes that keep it relevant today.

Required books:

  • The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, Edited by Neville Coghill. Penguin Classics edition. (Specific edition required: ISBN 978-0140424386)

Challenge Level

This is a literature course open to students of all ages who are prepared to read and discuss challenging literature at a high school level.

Time Commitment

Most students report spending approximately 2-3 hours per week on homework outside of the webinar.

Instructor

Count Karloff

Reading List

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, Edited by Neville Coghill. Penguin Classics edition. (Specific edition required: ISBN 978-0140424386)

Prerequisites

Any HS Lightning Literature class, or equivalent literary analysis experience. A Shakespeare class is recommended. Student must be able to read quickly and fluently at the 9th grade level or above. Students should also be able to write multi-paragraph texts independently and verbally communicate complex ideas with the microphone in the live webinar.

Available Sessions

Fall 2018 Monday 9am Pacific, Fall 2017 Tuesday 4pm Pacific