Geoffrey Chaucer is one of our grandest and most enduring poets; an architect of our vocabulary and our literary style. By examining the English writer's texts, from his short love lyrics to the copious profusion of character and incident that is The Canterbury Tales, these 12 lectures will prepare you for the challenges of Chaucer's oeuvre, and will provide an understanding of what makes him the true "father" of English poetry. With Professor Lerer as your expert guide, you'll plumb the richness and depth of Chaucer's poetry and explore his life, the range of his work, and his impact on English language and literature. You'll examine Chaucer in virtually all the varieties of literature available to him: classical epic, domestic farce, ribald comedy, saint's life, beast fable, romance adventure, personal lyric, devotional prayer, and religious prose. You'll learn how Chaucer uses relationships between men and women, humans and God, social "insiders" and "outsiders," and high and low desires to explore our "ticklish" world, and the way life takes shape from literary forms-be they marriage vows, the verses of Scripture, or stories told by plain folk. You'll also meet some of the most vibrant characters in all of literature, including: the bawdy Wife of Bath, the manipulative Pandarus (whose very name gave rise to the term "pandering"), the upright Knight, and the ambiguous Pardoner.
Professor Lerer leads you deeply into the texts, so that you learn about their sources and syntax, and the rich repertoire of poetic techniques they display. And while he makes it clear that these texts remain eminently worth reading today, he also does full justice to their medieval context.
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A complete waste of time
I can't think of a better target group than myself for this kind of course, since I desperately wanted an overview of Chaucer's life and writings. There is, however, no indication that the course supervisor has any clear idea of how to put things in context. The focus is always to narrow, so this feels like a series of footnotes on obscure details instead of a general overview.
Rethought the whole thing from scratch, presented things differently - found someone else to do it.
The course supervisor spends most of his time on the microphone citing passages from Chaucer, verbatim and directly in Middle English in a funny Jim Carrey-esque voice. Then he reads the same passages again in Modern English, commenting freely and spontaneously on what he has just said. Usually, the meaning is clear already so the commenting is superfluous. This is an extreme case of bad time management.
I'd love to get another course on Chaucer and I will consider buying it if it becomes available.
Not much about the life of Chaucer
- Mary Elizabeth Reynolds "author of Lowcountry Legend's series"