Clearing and adjustment 2020

Take a look at our vacancies to see if this course, or similar, has spaces available. Join us now and help shape tomorrow.

Search clearing vacancies

BA Art History and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

For the latest updates on how coronavirus will affect applicants and offer-holders, you can visit our FAQs.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page.

Information for offer-holders

Course unit details:
Chaucer: Texts, Contexts, Conflicts

Unit code ENGL20231
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Arts, Histories and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Examines the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer, in relation to texts written by his contemporaries, placing them in the context of late fourteenth century Europe. Considers these texts in relation to the dominant strands of recent criticism – historicist, psychoanalytic, feminist – and also earlier critical paradigms – new-critical and exegetical, ultimately looking back to Kittredge.

 

Aims

  • to develop students’ exploration of the Middle English period through study, in the original language, of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales
  • to develop a further understanding of relevant historical and cultural contexts
  • to engage students with published criticism on Chaucer and to current critical debates in relation to his works
  • to study other writing of the period
  • to develop students’ research skills
  • to develop a range of skills appropriate to a second year level of understanding medieval writing: written (including electronic forms) and verbal forms of expression; reflective or critical thinking; and the ability to organize material appropriately including into a coherent literary argument.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course unit the successful student will have demonstrated:

  • a capacity to read Chaucer in the original language and an understanding of the range and variety of his works
  • an ability to engage critically with a range of Chaucer’s writing through the detailed study of particular tales and their place in a wider context
  • an understanding of relevant cultural, historical and critical matters
  • an ability to deploy a range of skills appropriate to a level 2 unit in understanding medieval writing: to work independently towards both the examination and the essay
  • developing the following range of skills: research, critical or reflective thinking, oral/aural (active listening), electronic retrieval; and to organize a coherent argument by paying attention to both close reading techniques and informed by an awareness of current critical debates

Teaching and learning methods

Supported by Blackboard, with links to such online resources as the Harvard Chaucer Webpages and the Metro site (support for Middle English language). Also, YouTube vides of performances by Patience Agbabi, Jean Breeze, and other modern poets.

 

Knowledge and understanding

  • read Chaucer in the original language;
  • understand the range and variety of his works;
  • engage critically with a range of Chaucer’s writing through the detailed study of particular tales and their place in a wider context;
  • understand relevant cultural, historical and critical matters; display an ability to deploy a range of skills appropriate to a level 2 unit in understanding medieval writing: to work independently towards both the examination and the essay;

Intellectual skills

organize a coherent argument, paying attention to close reading techniques, with an awareness of current critical debates

Practical skills

  • retrieve, sift, organise, synthesise and critically evaluate material from a range of different sources, including library, electronic, and online resources;
  • deliver oral presentations in front of [[the instructor/ a seminar group]]; produce written work using appropriate language for an academic audience; produce written work that collects and integrates evidence to formulate/test a critical argument; 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Develop an argument on the basis of different kinds of evidence.

Empathise with cultural productions of a very different era from the students’ own.

 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
Group/team working
Students taking this unit will be able to work courteously and constructively as part of a larger group.
Innovation/creativity
On this unit students are encouraged to respond imaginatively and independently to the questions and ideas raised by texts and other media.
Leadership
Students on this unit must take responsibility for their learning and are encouraged not only to participate in group discussions but to do so actively and even to lead those discussions.
Project management
Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively.
Oral communication
Students taking this unit will be able to show fluency, clarity and persuasiveness in spoken communication.
Research
Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
Written communication
Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.

Assessment methods

text exercise: translation, commentary and short essay 40%
Essay 60%

 

Feedback methods

Written and face-to-face (upon arrangement)

Recommended reading

Set text: V.A. Kolve and Glending Olson, eds. The Canterbury Tales: Seventeen Tales and the General Prologue, 3rd ed. (New York: Norton, 2018)

Useful introductory critical material: David Wallace, Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). See further Steve Ellis, ed. Chaucer: An Oxford Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Helen Phillips, An Introduction to 'The Canterbury Tales' (London: Macmillan, 2000); Gail Ashton, Studying Chaucer: Approaching 'The Canterbury Tales (Plymbridge House, 2000).

On Chaucer’s life see Paul Strohm, The Poet’s Tale (Profile, 2015). 

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Matthews Unit coordinator

Return to course details