The writings of Geoffrey Chaucer have had a deep and lasting influence on writers in English from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries. But every generation since the poet’s death has valued and interrogated different aspects of Chaucer’s works, remoulding this slippery, covert author’s profile and works according to their contemporary values and needs. This module will place Chaucer’s writing in the context of the late-medieval world in which he lived. It will consider how Chaucer’s works treat such issues as: writing history and legend; the relationship between English and European literary cultures; social change; gender relations; writing self and other, and writing religious belief. The module will address some of the problems we face when we attempt to connect with past aesthetic and cultural forms, and enable you to develop strategies for approaching these. It will equip you to reevaluate Chaucer’s works: to look critically at how these have been read in the past and to consider how we might read them most productively today.
Prior experience of Middle English is not essential for this module; an introduction to the language will be provided.