English 517: Chaucer and the Subversive Other

English 516/WTSG 305/MDST 316: Chaucer and the Subversive Other. Women, Gender, Class, Nation, Religion (http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~jchance/ch.htm)

Fall, 2002                                2:30-5:30 T                                      Dr. Chance



A fourteenth-century poet who worked

for the king as controller of customs and

works, Chaucer nevertheless in his poems

embedded sympathetic treatments of

women, the commons, homosociality, and

otherness as expressed through multicultural

indicators expressive of nation and religion.

This seminar will explore exemplary

treatments of alterity and difference in

Chaucer and the complex poetic strategies

he chose to conceal his sympathies. In order

to see clearly how radical such strategies are,

this seminar will employ disjunctive

combinations of tales and works (antinarratival

in sequence) as subject for discussion and



Text List (All on reserve)


Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales:

Complete, ed. Larry Benson et al. 

(Houghton Mifflin College, 2000)

            $44.36 (amazon.com)

Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, ed. R. Dobson, 2nd ed. (Prometheus Books) PR1895.S561989

Troilus and Criseyde, ed. R. A. Shoaf (Michigan State University Pres) $15.95

Troilus and Criseyde, trans. Nevill Coghill (Viking Press) $9.95

Love Visions of Chaucer, trans. Brian Stone (Penguin) PR1852.S8 1983

Chaucer, ed. Corinne Saunders (Blackwells, 2001) $29.95


Selected Essays (On Reserve; see below);


Week 1: Introduction to the Background. The Peasants' Revolt of 1381 and Social Change

Aug. 27

Read: Selections from *R. Dobson, ed. The Peasants Revolt of 1381, 2nd ed. (Macmillan, 1983) DA235.P43 1983       

          Stephen Justice, Writing and Rebellion: England in 1381 (California, 1994), pp.13-  66. PR275.H5 J871994

Write: 2 pp. critical analysis of any ONE document in Dobson


Week 2: The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales: Social Order and Subversion

Sept. 3

Read: Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

          Parson's Prologue and Tale (skim)

          Richard Firth Green, "John Ball's Letters," in *Barbara Hanawalt, ed. Chaucer's England: Literature in Historical Context (Minnesota, 1992), pp. 176-200.

             PR1906.5 .C48 1992

          Susan Crane, "The Writing Lesson of 1381," Hanawalt, pp. 201-222


Week 3: Knight's Tale and Miller's Tale: Literary Interruption as Subversion

Sept. 10

Read:  Chaucer's Knight's Tale and Miller's Tale

          Lee Patterson, "'No Man His Reson Herde": Peasant Consciousness, Chaucer's         Miller, and the Structure of the Canterbury Tales," in Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380-1530, ed. Lee Patterson (California, 1990), pp. 113-55. PR275.S63 L51990


Week 4: The Nun's Priest's Tale: Gender Issues and the Peasants Revolt

Sept. 17

Read: The Nun's Priest's Tale

            Ann Astell, "Chaucer's Ricardian Allegories," Political Allegory in Late Medieval    England (Cornell, 1999), pp. 94-116. PR275.P64 A68.1999


Week 5: The Clerk's Tale: The Peasants Revolt and Gender Issues

Sept. 24

Read: The Clerk's Tale

           Elaine Tuttle Hansen, “The Powers of Silence: The Case of the Clerk’s Griselda,” in Women and Power in the Middle Ages, ed. Mary Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski (U. Georgia, 1988), pp. 230-49. HQ1143.W63 1988


Week 6: The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale: Alisoun as Cleric

Oct. 1

Read:  Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

           Chance, "Maister Alisoun's Feminist Self-Mythography," *The Mythographic Chaucer (Minnesota, 1995), pp. 214-231  PR1933.S35 C43 1995

           Louise O. Fradenburg, "'Fulfild of fairye': The Social Meaning of Fantasy in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale," rpt. in "Psychoanalytic Criticism  and the Wife of Bath," in The Wife of Bath: Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. Peter G. Beidler (Bedford Books, 1996), 189-220. PR1868.W592 B451996


Week 7: The Prioress and the Second Nun: Antisemitism and Mystical Subversion

Oct. 8

Read:  The Prioress's Tale and the Second Nun's Tale

           Louise O. Fradenberg, "Criticism, Anti-Semitism, and the Prioress's Tale," Exemplaria 1 (1989): 69-116.  PN661.E9 v.1 1989

           Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford, 1985), pp.  3-23, 27-59 BJ1409.S35 1985


Week 8:

Oct. 15 Midterm Break


Week 9: The Man of Law's Tale: Constance and the Pagan Other

Oct. 22

Read:  Man of Law's Tale

           David Raybin, "Custance and History: Woman as Outsider in Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale," Studies in the Age of Chaucer 12 (1990): 65-84.  PR1901.S88 v. 12


Weeks 10-11 The Pardoner's Tale and the Hous of Fame: Homosociality and Subjectivity (the Self as Queer/Other)

Nov. 5-12

Read:  The Pardoner's Tale; Hous of Fame

            Carolyn Dinshaw, "Eunuch Hermeneutics," Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (Wisconsin, 1989)), pp. 156-86; 256-78 PR1933.S35 D56 1989

John Boswell, “The Triumph of Ganymede: Gay Literature of the High Middle Ages,” Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 243-66. HQ76.3 .E8 B67

Jane Chance, "'Geffrey' as Dido, Ganymede, 'Marcia': Mythographic and Gender Parody in the Hous of Fame," The Mythographic Chaucer, pp. 45-82


Week 12: Gay Men in Troilus and Criseyde, bk. 1: Troilus and Ganymede

Nov.  19

Read:  Troilus and Criseyde, bk. 1

           Catherine Sanok,  "Criseyde, Cassandre, and the Thebaid: Women and the Theban Subtext of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde," SAC 20 (1998): 41-71. PR1901.S88 v.20


Week 13: Trading Women in Troilus and Criseyde, bks. 2-3: Criseyde Raptus

Nov. 26

Read:  Troilus and Criseyde, bks. 2-3

           Sarah Stanbury, "The Voyeur and the Private Life in Troilus and Criseyde," Studies in the Age of Chaucer  13 (1991): 141-58. PR1901.S88 v.13


Week 14: The Cunning Greek in Troilus and Criseyde: Diomed as Other

Dec. 3

Read: Troilus and Criseyde, bks. 4-5

         Constance Jordan, “Boccaccio’s In-Famous Women: Gender and Civic Virtue in the De mulieribus claris,” in Ambiguous Realities: Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. Carole Levin and Jeannie Watson (Wayne State, 1987), pp.25-47. PN56.5 .W64 A49 1987


Dec. 18 Date Due for Take Home Exams; Jan. 2: Grades Due


Requirements: participation, weekly ungraded short papers, seminar paper 15-25 pp. (no unexcused absences, please). Undergraduates may enroll with the permission of instructor.


Office hours: 11-12 and 1-2 TH

Office: 501 Fondren

E-mail: jchance@rice.edu

Phone: 713-348-2625

Fax: 713-348-5991 or 713-524-3304 (home)

©Copyright 2002, all rights reserved.
Updated April 4, 2002

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