Chaucer: Visions of Love

Chaucer Visions of Love

Taught by Professor Corey Olsen

This class is the first semester in a two-part survey of Chaucer’s major works.  In this first semester, we will study the works with which Chaucer established his reputation in his time: his early dream vision poems and his greatest completed work: Troilus and Criseyde.  In the second semester, we will study The Canterbury Tales.  In this first semester, we will focus on immersing ourselves in Chaucer’s language, building not only a comprehension of Chaucer’s verse but a sensitivity to the subtle nuances of Chaucer’s tone and narrative voice.  We will be reading Chaucer exclusively in Middle English, but no previous experience with Middle English is required.  Chaucer delights to engage other authors and other texts through his own poems, so we will also be reading some of the works with which Chaucer is explicitly interacting, including medieval favorites such as Ovid, Cicero, Macrobius, and Chaucer’s great Italian predecessor, Boccaccio.


Course Schedule

Chaucer: Visions of Love will meet Monday and Thursday (primary lecture and closing session) from 9:30 pm – 11:00 pm (UTC-5)

Week 1 (January 13 – 17):
Dream Visions 1
Monday: Introduction to Middle English, Dream Visions
Thursday: Book of the Duchess, 1-290

Week 2 (January 20 – 24):
Enroll Now ButtonDream Visions 2
Monday: Book of the Duchess, 291-757
Thursday: Book of the Duchess, 758-1334

Week 3 (January 27 – 31):
Dream Visions 3
Monday: House of Fame Book I, 1-508
Thursday: House of Fame Book II, 509-1090

Week 4 (February 3 – 7):
Dream Visions 4
Monday: House of Fame Book III, 1091-2158
Thursday: Parlement of Foules

Week 5 (February 10 – 14):
Troilus 1
Monday: Il Filostrato, Proem – Canto IV
Thursday: Il Filostrato, Canto V-IX

Week 6 (February 17 – 21):
Troilus 2
Monday & Thursday: Troilus and Criseyde, Book I

Week 7 (February 24 – 28):
Troilus 3
Monday & Thursday: Troilus and Criseyde, Book II

Week 8 (March 3 – 7):
Troilus 4
Monday & Thursday: Troilus and Criseyde, Book III

Week 9 (March 10 – 14):
Troilus 5
Monday & Thursday: Troilus and Criseyde, Book IV

Week 10 (March 17 – 21):
Troilus 6
Monday & Thursday: Troilus and Criseyde, Book V

Week 11 (March 24 – 28):
Dreaming Once More 1
Monday & Thursday: Prologue to The Legend of Good Women

Week 12 (March 31 – April 4):
Dreaming Once More 2
Monday & Thursday: The Legend of Good Women


Required Texts

Note on textbooks: Our primary textbook for this semester will be The Riverside Chaucer, the premier scholarly edition of Chaucer’s complete works.  This book is expensive, but it will be the main textbook for both semesters of the Chaucer class, and it is a great book to have for the rest of your life, anyway.  In addition to the Riverside, I have recommended the Norton Critical edition of the Troilus.  You need not purchase this if you’d rather not – the required texts contain both Chaucer’s Troilus and Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato.  However, the Norton Troilus features a facing-page edition that puts Chaucer’s poem in direct parallel with Boccaccio’s work, which makes direct comparison much easier.  If you decide, for instance, to write a paper on Troilus, I’d recommend picking up a copy of the Norton; it’s pretty darn cool.
– Dr. Olsen