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张在新

John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

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The Caterbury Tales  

2013-10-08 20:00:21|  分类: +乔叟 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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The Canterbury Tales: Truth and Constructions of Truths

       “Reading Chaucer in the 21st century? Are you kidding me?” This must be your first reaction to a course titled “The Canterbury Tales.” True, Chaucer wrote the Tales over 600 years ago, but it can be closer to us than modern or even contemporary fiction is. At least the A on the Prioress’ cloak has a stable meaning (“Amor vincit omnia” – “Love conquers all”), although some of the other tales can be deconstructed. Besides, Chaucer’s keen interest in humanity, good or bad, helps to shorten the historical distance between the Middle Ages and the 21st century. But it doesn’t have to be this serious. Remember, Chaucer is also a witty poet. Don’t take my word for it—find out for yourself.

This course aims to study The Canterbury Tales from different perspectives, using history and theory to make sense of the tales we are going to read. These tales uncover the “truth” about man and woman, soul and body, time and space, Christianity and Judaism, Word of God and language, Providence and human agency, truth and rhetoric, nature and art, youth and old age, truth and belief, metaphor and metonymy, etc. But the ultimate truth about these binary oppositions turns out to be truths constructed by ideology and culture. In this way, The Canterbury Tales, a literary discourse, responds to, interacts with, and participates in the construction of philosophical, social, psychological, religious, and rhetorical discourses.

Textbook: Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. David Wright. Oxford UP, 1985. Beijing: FLTRP, 1996.

Tentative Schedule

Week 1  Introduction and the “General Prologue” (pp. 1-22)

Weeks 2-3    The “Miller’s Tale” (pp. 79-98): Body/Space vs. History/Time

Week 4  National Day Holiday

Week 5  The “Prioress’s Tale” (pp. 159-166): Power and Truth,

              Historical/Structural Trauma and Christian/Jewish Guilt

Week 6  The “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” (pp. 201-218): Personal Time vs. Public Time

Weeks 7-8  The “Wife of Bath’s Tale” (pp. 219-250): History vs. Herstory

Week  9  The “Summoner’s Tale” (pp. 261-277): Speech Acts and Hermeneutics

Week 10  The “Merchant’s Tale” (pp. 313-343): Age and Agency

Week 11  The “Squire’s Tale” (pp. 344-362): Truth and Rhetoric

Week 12  The “Franklin’s Tale” (pp. 362-385): Honor and Commodity

Weeks 13-4  The “Second Nun’s Tale” (pp. 411-427): Truth and Metaphor

Week 15-6    Presentations

              Term paper due: Last day of school for the semester

Requirements and Grades

1.    Class participation, 10%.

2.    Fifteen-minute presentation on an assigned essay, 15%.

3.    Ten-page term paper, 60%.

4.    Ten-minute presentation on the term paper, 15%.

Presentations

Besserman, Lawrence. “Ideology, Antisemitism, and Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale. The Chaucer Review 36.1 (2001): 48-72. (Week 5)

Bishop, Louise M. “‘Of Goddes pryvetee nor of his wyf’: Confusion of Orifices in Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 44.3 (2002): 31-46. (Week 3)

Bradbury, Nancy Mason and Carolyn P. Collette. “Changing Times: The Mechanical Clock in Late Medieval Literature.” The Chaucer Review 43.4 (2009): 351-75. (Week 6)

Carter, Susan. “Coupling the Beastly Bride and the Hunter Hunted: What Lies Behind Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale.” The Chaucer Review 34.4 (2003): 329-45. (Week 8)

Crocker, Holly A. “Performative Passivity and Fantasies of Masculinity in the Merchant’s Tale. The Chaucer Review 38.2 (2003): 178-98. (Week 10)

Hayes, Mary. “Privy Speech: Sacred Silence, Dirty Secrets in the Summoner’s Tale.” The Chaucer Review 40.3 (2006): 263-88. (Week 9)

Lynch, Kathryn L. “East Meets West in Chaucer’s Squire’s and Franklin’s Tales.” Speculum 70.3 (1995): 530-51. (Week 11)

McGregor, Francine. “What of Dorigen? Agency and Ambivalence in the ‘Franklin’s Tale.’” The Chaucer Review 31.4 (1997): 365-78. (Week 12)

McKinley, Kathryn L. “The Silenced Knight: Questions of Power and Reciprocity in the ‘Wife of Bath’s Tale.’” The Chaucer Review 30.4 (1996): 359-78. (Week 8)

Robertson, Elizabeth. “Apprehending the Divine and Choosing to Believe: Voluntarist Free Will in Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale.” The Chaucer Review 46.1 (2011): 111-30. (Week 13)

Walts, Dawn Simmons. “Tricks of Time in the Miller’s Tale.” The Chaucer Review 43.4 (2009): 400-13. (Week 3)

Academic Honesty

       To plagiarize means “to take (words, ideas etc) from (someone else’s work) and use them in one’s own work without admitting one has done so. If you plagiarize at university in Britain or the US you may be refused a degree” (Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture). Any act of plagiarism in this class will be reported to the dean.

 

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