Many a medievalist has been seduced by Chaucer. Perhaps it’s the totality of Chaucer’s enduring characters, memorable tales, elusive narrator, and fragmented whole that keeps us coming back. We are fascinated and delighted, too, by his linguistic play and the lyrical cadence of Middle English. Chaucer may have led us to graduate study in the first place and remains a treat that organizes our pedagogical lives. For some who teach in smaller programs or two-year colleges, Chaucer’s canonical status may provide the only guaranteed place for medieval texts in the curriculum and thus represents one small chance to share our love with students.
Yet not everyone who encounters Chaucer is immediately enthralled. For some teachers, the field is too large and the plow too small. They are discouraged by the thought of compressing the totality of Chaucer studies into a single-semester seminar class or, even more daunting, into a brief module of a survey course. A similar divide separates students. Some are enthusiastic about all things Chaucerian; others, less so. The historical gulf may be too wide. Students may lack intellectual context or language skills to make meaning of Chaucer or to make him meaningful to their modern selves. A number of excellent resources exploring pedagogical approaches to Chaucer are available; however, they generally offer little in the way of specific assignments or activities.1 The essays in this collection offer practical, classroomtested strategies for closing the sort of gaps outlined above and bringing Chaucer to life in new ways for teachers and for students. In soliciting and reviewing submissions, we emphasized innovation— ideas we had not encountered elsewhere—and adaptability—ideas that could be reworked by different instructors and for different contexts. The result is a set of seven essays that can help both the veteran and the novice teacher of Chaucer.
Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | History | Literature in English, British Isles | Medieval History | Medieval Studies
Recommended Repository Citation
Langdon, Alison (Ganze) & David Sprunger. Introduction to Innovative Approaches to Teaching Chaucer, Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Teaching, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2015.