Spring 2002  v  ENGL 581

M 4-6:30v HUM 216

Dr. Obermeier

Chaucer's Women

Office Hours: MW 1:00-2:00, and by Appointment in HUM 321

( and Voice Mail: 505.277.2930

Email: AObermei@unm.edu

Website: http://www.unm.edu/~AObermei

Mailbox in Main English Department Office HUM 217

Required Texts

Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. V.E. Watts. Penguin, 1999.

Castle, Gregory, and Anita Obermeier. Guide to Style. 2000.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. Ed. Larry D. Benson. Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

Course Requirements

1 5-page paper                 worth 10 %        Electronic Discussion Forum                                 worth 10 %

1 15-page paper               worth 35 %        Final Exam                                                        worth 15 %

Class Participation           worth 15 %        Oral Presentation & Annotated Bibliography             worth 15 %

Middle English Reading Test

Grading will be done on a standard 0-100 scale. See website for grading rubrics.

Tentative Syllabus 

(You need to have read the selections on the days indicated.  Page numbers refer to the Riverside Chaucer.  Don’t forget the Explanatory Notes to each work, at the back of the Riverside Chaucer.

M 1.14

Introduction to the Course. Video Presentation: Prologue to Chaucer. Preliminary linguistic discussion         

M 1.21 Martin Luther King Day. No Classes.
M 1.28 Discussion of Middle English grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Riverside: Introduction, xv-xxvi (Chaucer’s Life) and xxx-xxxviii (Pronunciation, esp. table on p. xxxii). The section on inflections and syntax in the Introduction (xxxiv-xlii) is dense and rather difficult to assimilate all at once. We will cover most features in class, but you will be expected to read this section slowly, returning to it as necessary. xxxviii- xliv (Versification). Short Poems: Intro (631-33), “An ABC” (637-40), “To Rosemounde,” “Womanly Noblesse” (649-50), “Complaint unto Pity” (640-41), “Merciles Beaute (659), “Against Women Unconstant” (657).
M 2.4 Romaunt of the Rose, Fragment A (685-94). Oral Presentation on Guillaume de Lorris’ Romance of the Rose. “Complaint of Mars,” “Complaint of Venus” (643-49), Anelida and Arcite (375-81).
M 2.11 Book of the Duchess (329-46), Parliament of Fowls (383-94).
M 2.18 Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. Compare Chaucer’s translation, if you like (395-472). Troilus and Criseyde, Book I (471-88).
M 2.25 Troilus and Criseyde, Book II (489-513), Book III (513-25).
M 3.4 Troilus and Criseyde, Book III (526-37), Book IV (538-60).
M 3.11 Spring Break
M 3.18

Troilus and Criseyde, Book V (560-85). Paper 1 Due.

M 3.25 Legend of Good Women, Prologue (587-603) and Legends I-II (604-8).
M 4.1 Legend of Good Women, Legends III-IX (608-30).
M 4.8 “The Miller’s Tale” (66-77), “The Reeve’s Tale” (77-84), “The Cook’s Tale” (84-87). For all CT tales, also read their portraits in the GP.
M 4.15 “The Man of Law’s Tale” (87-104), “The Physician’s Tale” (190-3), “The Second Nun’s Tale” (262-70).
M 4.22 “Wife of Bath’s Tale” (105-22), “The Clerk’s Tale” (137-153).
M 4.29 “The Merchant’s Tale,” (153-68), “The Franklin’s Tale” (178-89), “The Retraction” (328). Paper 2 Due.
M 5.6 Final Exam at 5:30-7:30pm.

Course Objective

Chaucer has often been credited with creating the first psychologically viable women in English literature: The Wife of Bath and Criseyde, one a contemporary fourteenth-century antifeminist caricature, the other an ancient Juliet. In this course, we will test this scholarly commonplace and examine just how conservative or avant-garde Chaucer really was. Of course, Chaucer’s canon contains numerous women characters aside from Alisoun and Criseyde. Among them are nuns, lovers, martyrs, wives, virgins, bourgeois merchants, adulteresses, courtly as well as peasant women. In our inquiries, we will enlist feminist theory, genre criticism, and comparisons with other medieval women, both literary and historical.

Our second goal in the course is to read every word of Chaucer’s poetry in Middle English. If you find the Middle English difficult and unfamiliar at first, I suggest you use a translation into modern English (on Reserve) to help you follow the narrative line; but try to get free of the translation as soon as possible. In other words, use the translation as a crutch; however, since all discussions and examinations will be based on the Middle English text, you need to get off that crutch as soon as you can.

Course Policies

1. Papers must conform to the presentational guidelines set forth in the Guide to Style or the MLA. Each paper should represent your best effort and will be graded accordingly. Please note that I encourage you to discuss topics, outlines, and rough drafts with me during my office hours or via email. You will be given a separate instruction sheet for each assignment. Papers have to be submitted on time.

2. Tests: The final is closed book and consists of short ids, passage ids, and essay questions. I will distribute a study guide before the test.

3. Attendance is mandatory. Since your progress in the course will depend a great deal on what we discuss in class, I expect class attendance and participation (actual contributions to the class discussion). I will pass out attendance sheets, and it is your responsibility to sign the sheets. So if the sheet passed you by, come up to the desk and sign at the end of class. Your participation grade will be affected after 2 unexcused absences (from a B+ to a B for one additional absence, etc.). An excused absence is a doctor’s note, letter from an employer, etc. If you have an emergency situation, you can leave a message on my voice mail or email. Note: While you are welcome to check with me on what you have missed, I do not "reteach" class periods you missed during my office hours or over email. Please consult with your fellow students for notes.

4. Middle English Reading Test: Each student will be required to read aloud a passage of 20-30 lines from Chaucer in Middle English with the appropriate pronunciation. Listen to the tapes on Reserve; study the pronunciation guide in the Riverside Chaucer. Students will be encouraged to do this reading aloud in class, as they can learn from each other; however, you can also read your passages privately in my office. The reading will not be graded, but thoughtful and dedicated attempts will weigh positively on your final grade.

5. Electronic Discussion Forum: I am in the process of putting together an electronic forum for this class, on which you are supposed to discuss assigned essays every week. More later.

6. Assignments: Students must attempt all assignments to pass the course. You cannot simply skip an assignment because you are happy with your grade at the time; hence you cannot, for instance, skip the final.

7. Pertinent Websites: My own website will be under reconstruction but will contain a file for this class with links to pertinent Chaucer and medieval women websites. Generally, all handouts will also be posted to the website. For now, you might want to try these:

Chaucer’s Pronunciation: http://icg.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/pronunciation/


8. PlagiarismDon’t do it!  For clarification, see #102-107 in the Guide to Style.