Chaucer Fall 2011

Research Proposal and WebEssay


Based on your reading of the Canterbury Tales so far and the pilgrim you’ve researched, begin to think of a potential research essay you’d like to write for this class.  The end result will be a 2000-3000 word web-essay dealing with some aspect of Chaucer, the Canterbury Tales, or his world.

The topic and format of the essay is pretty open.  You may want to write a traditional literary criticism essay based on your own close-reading of the text supplemented by a sprinkling of secondary research.  You might also want to write a more research heavy exploration of some aspect of Chaucer, the Tales, or the middle ages which we have not have time to explore in detail in class.

Bibliographical help

Step One: Proposal

Before class on Wednesday October 26, submit a research proposal on our website.  This will be a 250-500 word explanation of what you imagine your essay will be about, or the questions you hope to answer.  This proposal should certainly contain some discussion of the specific sections within the Canterbury Tales you’d like to examine, or sources you might use in your research.  (For example, if you want to discuss “Women” in CT, you’ll want to specify which characters you’ll include or focus on, and start to gather some secondary research on the matter, using the sources you have discovered while doing your project, as well as the notes in our book, the Harvard website, and others). 

You are strongly encouraged to discuss your proposal with me as you work on it; I am more than happy to give feedback on early drafts.


The research proposal itself is worth 30% of the final grade of the essay.

Your final essay does not have to end up matching your proposal exactly; rather this grade weighting reflects the importance of getting an early start on a research assignment and getting feedback as soon as possible.  Take this assignment seriously, and writing the actual essay will be much easier, and the end result will be much better.  Please note: I hate reading crappy essays.


Step Two: Essay

Your web-essay will be due, submitted online, before class on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

If you have a BUNCH of other stuff due at the end of the semester, you are more than welcome to research, write, and submit your essay early.  You could even start NOW!



Step Three: Peer Evaluate

Read five of your peers’ essays and write a thoughtful, specific response to the essay.  You are not grading these essays, but should note the strengths and weakness of the essay as you see it.