Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Canterbury Tales
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials One x two hour weekly seminar


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Oral Presentation  30-minute group oral presentation  40%
Semester Assessment 2500 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements.  60%
Supplementary Assessment In the even of failure in the oral presentation , a 15 minute script on a new topic with accompanying visuals, written as if for delivery, to be submitted  40%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.

Demonstrate a detailed understanding of selected texts from The Canterbury Tales.

Discuss critically the nature of these texts in terms of themes, genre, style and language, placing these texts within the immediate context of The CanterburyTales, and within the wider context of late medieval English literature.

Demonstrate an awareness of the historical, social, religious, and cultural contexts of these texts.

Brief description

This module will focus on a selection of texts from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It will address central themes identified in recent critical approaches to Chaucer, including individualism and community, class and economic and social change, religion and piety, gender and sex, and race and national identity. Attention will be paid to medieval theories of authorship and medieval understandings of 'literature'. The module will enable detailed study and analysis of the primary texts, taking in to consideration political and cultural contexts. This module pays close attention to issues of language, genre, and history.


Week 1: Introduction to the module: Chaucer and the Literary Tradition
Week 2: The General Prologue
Week 3: The Knight's Tale
Week 4: The Knight's Tale and The Miller's Prologue and Tale
Week 5: The Man of Law's Introduction, Prologue, Tale and Epilogue
Week 6: The Clerk's Prologue and Tale
Week 7: The Merchant's Prologue, Tale and Epilogue
Week 8: The Pardoner's Introduction, Prologue and Tale
Week 9: The Prioress's Prologue and Tale
Week 10: The Prologue and Tale of Sir Thopas; Chaucer's Retraction


This module deepens understanding of a key figure in the history of English Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer is one of the earliest, and certainly the most well-known, authors in the medieval English literary tradition. The module will consider in detail key parts of Chaucer's most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, which will be viewed in its historical, literary and cultural contexts. The module will consider the texts from a range of current critical and theoretical perspectives, including historicist, feminist, queer, psychoanalytical and postcolonial approaches.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Yes, through written assignments and group discussions and presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance Yes, through independent reading and research
Information Technology Yes, through accessing on-line resources, and utilizing word processing and powerpoint technology
Personal Development and Career planning Yes, through critical self-reflection and through the development of transferable research and communication skills
Problem solving Yes, by developing evaluative analysis and critical skills, and by formulating a detailed argument
Research skills Yes, by relating texts to historical context, and by synthesizing information in an evaluative argument
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical and theoretical analysis of literary texts and evaluation of broad intellectual concepts
Team work Yes, through group presentations

Reading List

Essential Reading
Chaucer, Geoffrey (1992) The Canterbury Tales editor A C Cawley London Primo search
Recommended Text
(2010.) Chaucer and religion /edited by Helen Phillips. D.S. Brewer Primo search (2003.) The Cambridge companion to Chaucer /edited by Piero Boitani and Jill Mann. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press Primo search Bale, Anthony (Jan. 2007) The Jew in the Medieval Book:English Antisemitisms, 1350-1500 Cambridge University Press Primo search Burger, Glenn (2003) Chaucer's Queen Nation Minneapolis Primo search Cooper, Helen (1996.) The Canterbury tales /Helen Cooper. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press Primo search Crane, Susan. (c1994.) Gender and romance in Chaucer's Canterbury tales /Susan Crane. Princeton University Press Primo search Dinshaw, Carolyn. (c1989.) Chaucer's sexual poetics /Carolyn Dinshaw. University of Wisconsin Press Primo search Ellis, Steve (2005.) Chaucer :an Oxford guide /Steve Ellis. Oxford University Press Primo search Fradenburg, L. O. Aranye (July 2002) Sacrifice Your Love:Psychoanalysis, Historicism, Chaucer University of Minnesota Press Primo search Ganim, John (2008) Medievalism and Orietalism: three Essays on Literature, Architecture and Cultural Identity London Primo search Hansen, Elaine Tuttle (Jan. 1992) Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender NetLibrary, Incorporated Primo search Hines, John (1993) The Fabliaux in English London Primo search Knight, Stephen Thomas. (1986.) Geoffrey Chaucer /Stephen Knight. Blackwell Primo search Mann, Jill (1973) Chaucer and Medieval Estats Satire Cambridge Primo search Mann, Jill. (1991.) Geoffrey Chaucer /Jill Mann. Harvester Wheatsheaf Primo search Patterson, Lee. (1991.) Chaucer and the subject of history /Lee Patterson. Routledge Primo search Strohm, Paul (April 1994) Social Chaucer Harvard University Press Primo search Turner, Marion (Nov. 2006) Chaucerian Conflict:Languages of Antagonism in Late Fourteenth-Century London Oxford University Press, Incorporated Primo search Wallace, David (1997.) Chaucerian polity :absolutist lineages and associational forms in England and Italy /David Wallace. Stanford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6