ENG L305 / B612: CHAUCER

FALL 2011



CLASS MEETING: MW 4:30 – 5:45 PM, SB G11

OFFICE HOURS:  M T W 12:00 – 1:00 PM (and by appointment)

Office: LA 149 (formerly “CM”; in English Department)

Office phone: 260-418-0192

Email: flemingd@ipfw.edu


COURSE WEBSITE: http://users.ipfw.edu/flemingd/ChaucerFall11.html 

COURSE WIKI: http://chaucer2011.pbworks.com/



“Father of English Poetry”, or dead guy whose “drasty ryming is nat

worth a toord!” (Chaucer’s words)?  We’ll develop a sound reading

knowledge of Middle English (the language of England c. 1200–

1500), then read a bunch of Chaucer’s texts in the original

focusing primarily on the Canterbury Tales.  We’ll try to

contextualize these texts and consider their relevance today and in

the history of English literature.  No previous experience required.



Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Edited by Jill Mann (Penguin, 2005), ISBN: 9780140422344 

Rob Pope, How To Study Chaucer (2nd ed; St. Martins Press, 2001), ISBN: 9780333762837

Always Always Always Always Always Always Always Always bring the text to class; it is necessary for informed discussion; failure to bring your text to class is equivalent to an absence (and you better check out the attendance policy).



1.   Daily attendance and vigorous participation in class and on class wiki fueled by close reading of all assignments

2.   Memorization and recitation of the first sentence of the Canterbury Tales in addition to at least 10 other lines from Chaucer’s works

3.   Frequent quizzes testing understanding of Middle English vocabulary and syntax and reading comprehension

4.   Tale Master Project

5.   Research Paper

6.   Midterm and Final examination



Attendance policy:

This course is based in active participation; as a result, attendance in class is essential.  


·         3 absences: course failure



·         There are NO excused absences.

·         Excessive lateness will count as an absence.

·         Leaving class early will count as an absence.

·         Sleeping in class will count as an absence.


Regardless of cause, you are responsible for all work missed during absences, including changes to the class schedule announced in class.


Students who miss the first day of class are required to hand in a signed Syllabus Contract before Wed, Aug 31.  Failure to do so will result in a failing grade for the course. 


Writing Assignments:

Engrave the following on your brain:

·         I do not accept any late work

·         Grade for late work: 0


Give yourself plenty of time and leeway to get your work done and to deal with bumps in the road should they occur.  Pretend, at least for this class, that you are operating in the real world.


Failure to submit any written assignment will result in a failing grade for the course


Reading Responses:

Each student has been assigned to one of four Groups, A,B, C or D.  When your Group is assigned, each student will individually write an informal response to that night’s reading, and post it on this site before 3am the night before it is due. 


The restrictions on these are pretty loose: it’s basically a journal entry, except we’ll be sharing them with each other instantaneously.  You can address an issue we’ve raised in class; raise your own questions about the texts we’re reading; make an argument about a text we’re reading; express your opinion about the texts or the characters.  These need not be formal, but must be at least 300 words long.  What I am looking for in these is your own close reading of the text.  NO secondary research is required, and is in fact discouraged.  If you use any resources to supplement your reading, these must be explicitly acknowledged in your response. 


Failure to submit 2 of these on time will result in a failing grade for the class.  I will read all of these at 6am the day they are due and grade them on a five point scale.  The weightiest factor in my grading will be evidence of your having read the texts.


These responses are useless if submitted late, and thus will not be accepted late.


Students whose groups are not (in parentheses) that day are required to read through your classmates responses, and briefly comment on at least three of them.  These comments need not be more than a few sentences long.  Failure to comment on more than 3 occasions will result in a failing grade for the class.


PLEASE NOTE: Only one student can edit each page at a time.  So please write your response in a separate program (like WORD), then copy and paste your response all at once.  Also, be sure to SAVE your own copy of your responses: if something goes wrong with the website, you'll be able to prove you've done the work.



Exams and Quizzes:

We will have a midterm and a final based on the text readings and material covered in class.  Both exams will contain translation work. 


We will also have regularly quizzes testing reading comprehension of Middle English.  Quizzes cannot be made up.




Each student will MEMORIZE and RECITE two passages of Middle

English.  Everybody will memorize and recite the first 18 lines of the General Prologue on Monday Sept 12.  If you’ve never done anything like this before, I suggest you get started as soon as possible.  For the second

memorization students select a passage from the Canterbury Tales of at least 10 lines (which must start at the start of a sentence and end at the end of a sentence), for recitation on Monday, Nov. 8.


Tale Master Project:


Each student will select one of the eligible Canterbury Tales and serve as Tale Master, creating an online introduction to the tale and its teller, as well as serving as resident expert on the day we cover that particular tale.



Participation/recitations:                                     10%

Office visit 1%

Quizzes/translation work:                                    10%

Wiki / short assignments                                     10%

Tale Master Project:                                              20%

Research Paper:                                                    20%

Midterm and Final                                                30%



Grade Scale:

A          95–100  Outstanding Scholarship

A -        90–94

B+        87–89

B          84–86    Superior

B–        80–83

C+        77–79

C          74–76    Average

C–        70–73

D+        65–69

D          60–64    Lowest passing quality

F          below 60


Students with disabilities:

In accordance with University policy, if you have a documented disability, you may be eligible to request accommodations from the office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). Students with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations and should have equal access to learning.  If you have any questions or you believe you need accommodations, contact the SSD office, Walb Union 113, Phone/TTD: 260 - 481 - 6657 http://www.ipfw.edu/ssd/


Keep in mind that accommodations are not retroactive so it is best to register as soon as possible so that timely arrangements can be made.


For all Students:

No retroactive accommodations can be made.  If you feel that you have an issue which may affect your ability to succeed in this class, you must come see me before you’ve defaulted on the class.  Hopefully, any issue can be resolved, but no issue can be resolved after the fact. 


Academic honesty:



Plagiarism will earn you an F for the course, and possible expulsion from the University.  If you borrow an idea or quote from another author, you must cite where you found the material. If you have any questions about citing sources, please **ASK** before your turn in an assignment.  I am happy to help, or visit the Writing Center. http://www.ipfw.edu/casa/writing/


Concerning Text-Messaging in Class

       Text-messaging during the class period will result in a failing grade          for the course


If you find you have any questions about your final grade for the course, this link may prove helpful




**note: This schedule is subject to change; missing class is NOT an excuse for not knowing about changes to the schedule (see above: attendance).


The most up-to-date schedule of readings and assignments can be found on the class WIKI:






Reading Due

Other Assignments




Intro To Class

Request Wiki Access



Intro to Middle English

Introduce yourself on wiki

Read General Prologue ll. 1-78

Read Pope Ch 1

Start Memorizing GP 1-18




The Knights Tale 860-1355 A/(B)

Pope Ch 2, pp. 22-30 C/(D)



The Knights Tale 1355-1880 D/(C)

Pope Ch 3, p. 46-55 B/(A)







The Knights Tale to End D/(A)

Pick a Pilgrim

Pope Ch 3, 55-73 B/(C)




General Prologue 1-360 C/(B)


Pope Ch 2, pp. 30-45 A/(D)



General Prologue 361-858 DB/(AC)




Miller's Tale A/(D)

Pope Ch 4, pp. 74-83 C/(B)



Reeve's Tale; Cook's D/(C)

Pope, pp. 121-126 A/(B)




Man of Law CB/(AD)



Wife of Bath Prologue AD/(CB)




Wife of Bath's Tale C/(A)

Pope, pp. 103-110 B/(D)



Midterm exam