Literature: Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales with Dr Tim Hammond

Ref: C3533259

This course is an introduction to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, written in the 14th century. The tales are a collection of stories (mostly in verse) told by a group of pilgrims on their way to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket. The tales are as diverse in character as the pilgrims themselves. The course draws upon various translations / versions of the tales but will focus upon the original written in Chaucer’s Middle English. Each session will take analyse of one of the tales (its language, story, characters and themes) in its medieval historical context. The course will also be concerned with how the work has been understood at different times and in different places down to the present day, including its influence on later literature and other art forms including film. A list of optional reading will be provided before the course start and students will have the chance of reading in advance of each session the tale specified for that week’s study.

Course aim

To introduce Chaucer's Canterbury Tales through study of a selection of the tales focusing upon the work’s literary characteristics and its meanings for people of Chaucer’s time and for subsequent readers at different times and in different places.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is likely, but not exclusively, to appeal to students with some prior interest in Literature, Classical Studies, History or Art History.

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

  • Discuss the general form and literary characteristics of The Canterbury Tales with more detailed reference to six of the tales.
  • With the help of notes, understand and enjoy the language of Chaucer; appreciate the linguistic differences between Middle English and modern variations of spoken and written English.
  • Understand the cultural context of the work - the values and beliefs of fourteenth century England and how these might be reflected and challenged in the work.
  • Understand the literary context of the work - the relationship of The Canterbury Tales to other works of English and European literature from the medieval to renaissance periods.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Students will be provided before the course starts with a list of easily accessible sources for Chaucer's text - in print and online.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Literature: Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales with Dr Tim Hammond

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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