Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Chaucer Help, Please!

I'm teaching a Canterbury Tales class this semester, and am changing things up.  For the final project, I want to have them do an exploratory essay in which they tease out the critical conversation about some issue relevant to the Tales or one of the Tales or even a couple of the Tales

These students are all new to Middle English (and we're reading in Middle English), and this is likely their only early British lit class, so asking them to do try to make an original argument about something would be rough.  But I want them to practice thinking about the tales and reading critical essays, so I think this is a reasonable assignment. 

The thing is, I don't think they'll be ready, mostly, to come up with good research questions/topics by the time they'll need to start reading for the assignment (if I can convince them to do stuff early).  So I want to give them some possible questions/topics (and also let someone choose their own should they wish to, with my approval). 

And that's where I'm asking for help.  I have some ideas, but I'd love to hear from real medievalists (or fake medievalists, even) about what questions or topics might lead students to read some really interesting critical conversations.

Thoughts, please?


  1. Would some variation on this assignment work for what you're doing?

    You might need to do some reverse-engineering.

  2. The Pardoner as used car salesman...i.e., his efficacy with persuasive rhetoric

  3. Dame Eleanor, you are a goddess!


    Mrs. C, I don't know that there's much of a critical conversation these days about the Pardoner's rhetoric, but I'll check!