Chaucer our greatest storyteller; Father of English

Ref: C2226602

The aim is to read the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales and two of its important component parts - The Franklin's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale - in the original middle English. We also aim to read a much wider selection from the Canterbury Tales in modern English. Our discussions will focus particularly on how Chaucer changed the world he lived in through his work, and what kind of appeal it makes to us today.

Additional information about this course

Autumn course ends 05/12/19 and Spring term starts 09/01/2020. Half term dates 24/10/19- in February tbc.

Course aim

Provide an introduction to the language and the storytelling of the first great poet and storyteller in English

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • The course is designed for those who enjoy reading and have already achieved some confidence in reading. Many of the students will be returners from previous courses.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Provide a close account of three late medieval texts in their original middle English language, and a wider selection in modern English
  • demonstrate an understanding of how these works both formed and were formed by the cultural context of their time.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some intertextual relationships - eg. how a writer can both develop a language and work upon the aspirations of readers to help shape cultural history
  • Provide an account for the continuing power of these ancient texts into modern times

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to complete reading tasks when these cannot be carried out wholly in class time.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to obtain some books - first either a complete Chaucer in middle English or copies of the three texts we aim to study in middle English: second, a copy of Nevill Coghill's version of the Canterbury Tales rendered into modern English

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Students on this kind of course have successfully interacted on an informal, social basis, eg by creating groups to read plays and novels together, or to visit a theatre.

Download full course information sheet

Chaucer our greatest storyteller; Father of English

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This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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