Seminar in Research and Theory:
The Canterbury Tales
Term: Fall 2004
Time: 4:00-5:20 p.m. MR
Room: Bliss 152
Prof. G. Steinberg
Office: Bliss 216
Office Phone: 771-2106
Office Hours: 10:00-11:20 a.m. WF
and by appointment
TCNJ E-mail Username: gsteinbe
COURSE DESCRIPTION. In this course, we will read the entire Canterbury Tales in its original Middle English. As we read each tale, we will examine current scholarly discussion about it, looking particularly at issues of historical interpretation and theory. Should we try to recapture each tale’s meaning as it might have been understood in Chaucer’s time? Is it appropriate to use “anachronistic” literary theory (e.g., Freudian or feminist theory) to interpret Chaucer? What value or meaning do Chaucer’s tales have for us? Is Chaucer just a quaint museum piece of antiquarian interest? Is Chaucer a timeless poet of the universal human condition? What can we learn about medieval English culture from Chaucer’s writings? What do we understand better about Chaucer’s writings if we learn more about medieval English culture and history? What do we learn about ourselves by learning more about Chaucer and his age? As we read Chaucer and what recent scholars have written about Chaucer, I will ask you to respond to what those scholars say -- to consider the theoretical, interpretive, and historical issues that the scholars raise and to situate yourself in dialogue with the articles we read as preparation for writing your own piece of genuine scholarship at the end of the semester on a Chaucer topic of your choice.
GOALS. In terms of my goals for this course, I want you
REQUIREMENTS. This course has the following graded assignments:
- 12 two-page response papers (25 points each),
- incidental assignments in the course schedule below (100 points total), and
- a seminar paper of suitable length and research (600 points).
Your final grade will be based on a 1000-point scale: A = 930-1000 points, A- = 900-929, B+ = 870-899, B = 830-869, B- = 800-829, C+ = 770-799, C = 730-769, C- = 700-729, D+ = 670-699, D = 600-669, and F = below 600. NOTE: You must receive approval of your seminar paper topic from me before you may submit your paper.
ATTENDANCE. Regular attendance is a virtual necessity for successful completion of this class. Class discussion constitutes important, useful preparation for the course’s graded assignments. If you miss a class, you will essentially lose out on that day’s contribution to your preparation, since it is never really possible to recapture the dynamics and flow of discussion for a missed class meeting (even if you get notes from someone). If you positively must miss class, however, I expect you to find out what you missed and to come fully prepared -- without excuses -- to the next class meeting.
OFFICE HOURS. My office is Bliss 216. My office hours this semester will be 10:00-11:20 a.m. WF and by appointment. If you cannot come to my office at these scheduled times, feel free as needed to call (771-2106) or talk to me before or after class to arrange an appointment at another time. You may also contact me by e-mail (email@example.com), or you may leave a message for me in my box at the English department offices in Bliss 124. E-mail is generally the fastest way to contact me in an emergency.
EMAIL. I may, on occasion, want to e-mail everyone in class. I generally only have access to your TCNJ e-mail addresses, however. As a result, if you regularly use an e-mail address other than your TCNJ address, I recommend that you have mail from your TCNJ address forwarded to the address you use more regularly. That way, if I e-mail your TCNJ address, my message will be forwarded to your other address automatically. To forward mail from your TCNJ address, just go to http://managemail.tcnj.edu/ and click “Mail Forwarding Manager.” Follow the directions there to set up the mail forwarding.
If you would like to send an e-mail message to one or more of your classmates, you can do so through SOCS. To access SOCS, go to http://socs.tcnj.edu and, after you have logged in with your TCNJ e-mail username and password, choose this class from the list of your courses this semester. Then, when our course page comes up, click the “Email” button. From there, you can select individual e-mail addresses or the entire class and send a message to the addresses you’ve selected.
LANGUAGES ACROSS THE CURRICULUM. Languages Across the Curriculum is an initiative to infuse foreign language study across the curriculum, thus building on the skills of language-proficient students in courses where foreign language sources are not a regular component of the curriculum. Those students who have completed at least two 200-level courses in a foreign language or have intermediate level proficiency in a language and are interested in enhancing their work in this course through complementary readings or research in that language may enroll in a one credit Languages Across the Curriculum Independent Study, LAC 391. The specific assignments will be identified by the course professor and the LAC supervisor, Deborah Compte of the Modern Languages Department. Dr. Compte will assist you in accessing appropriate materials and engaging in course-related research and activities in another language, and will monitor your progress. A brief biweekly report of ongoing progress in relation to the LAC component of the course is required. The LAC independent study is offered on a Pass/Fail basis only and thus does not impact on your GPA, but indicates your initiative in utilizing your language skills to enhance your coursework. It will be noted as LAC 391 on your transcript.
You must register for the LAC independent study by the end of the first week of classes. The specific work involved in the independent study will be clearly identified and articulated in the Independent Study Summary Proposal which you will draw up with Dr. Compte, with the approval of the course professor. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Compte promptly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 771-2392 so that the necessary forms can be completed by the College’s deadline. This is an exciting opportunity for students with the requisite language skills to build on their expertise and complement their academic studies.
RESPONSE PAPERS. In the course of the semester, you are required to write 12 short, informal papers (about 2 pages each) on the readings for class. You may choose on which days you want to submit response papers, but keep in mind that you may no longer turn in response papers after November 29 (because from that point in the semester on, you will be working exclusively on your seminar paper). In other words, you must finish all 12 of your response papers before we reach the workshop days in the course schedule below.
In each response paper, you are to summarize the main point of the critical essay(s) assigned for the day and respond to that main point in a critical but reflective fashion. You are not simply to write about Chaucer. To receive credit for a response paper, you must accurately summarize and thoughtfully respond to the main point of the assigned secondary reading(s) about Chaucer scheduled for the class meeting. The purpose of the response papers is
- to help you in your preparation for class discussion,
- to help me see where you’re struggling with the readings for class,
- to help you generate ideas for a seminar paper topic,
- to help you learn how to understand, summarize, and respond to other Chaucer scholars,
- to help you develop your intellectual independence and your capacity for sustained, critical thought for the production of high-quality Chaucer scholarship, and
- to help you learn how to discover, assert and insert your own critical “voice” into the ongoing dialogues, critiques, and debates within Chaucer studies.
Response papers will be graded Pass/Fail. I ask you to type them (so that they are easier for me to read), but they need not be a perfect, polished product. Don’t worry about typos or comma splices or organization. Be as specific as you can, getting down as much as you can, as quickly as you can. I don’t want a five-paragraph theme; rather, I want an exploration -- as detailed and specific as possible -- of the reading assignment(s) for the day. Normally, as long as you submit a response paper that summarizes and responds to the main point of the critical essay(s) assigned for the day and that is of suitable length, detail, and thoughtfulness (and as long as you turn it in on time on the assigned day), you will receive all 25 points that the response paper is worth. You may not submit more than one response paper on a single day, nor may you submit a response paper for a day that you are absent from class. You may submit more than 12 response papers (to make up for any response papers that do not receive a Pass), but no matter how many extra papers you turn in, you will not receive more than 400 points total.
COURSE SCHEDULE. The schedule below is subject to revision at the discretion of the professor. I recommend that you check this online syllabus regularly over the course of the term. Changes and updates will be indicated in red. The books for assignments in purple are available on 3-hour reserve at our library’s circulation desk. Reading assignments in green are from journals available in the periodical stacks of our library (on the lower level).
|R Sep 2||Introductions|
|M Sep 6||NO CLASS (Labor Day)|
|T Sep 7||
|R Sep 9||
|M Sep 13||
|R Sep 16||
|M Sep 20||
|R Sep 23||
|M Sep 27||
|R Sep 30||
|M Oct 4||
|R Oct 7||
|M Oct 11||
|R Oct 14||
|M Oct 18||
|R Oct 21||
|M Oct 25||NO CLASS (Fall Break)|
|R Oct 28||
|M Nov 1||
|R Nov 4||
|M Nov 8||
|R Nov 11||
|M Nov 15||
|R Nov 18||
|M Nov 22||
|R Nov 25||NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)|
|M Nov 29||
|R Dec 2|| WORKSHOP DAY: SEMINAR PAPER THESIS DUE (25 points)
Think about: How did the Chaucer scholars we’ve been reading organize their essays? Bring a copy of one scholar’s essay to class as a model or example.
|M Dec 6|| WORKSHOP DAY: SEMINAR PAPER ROUGH DRAFT DUE (25 points)
Think about: How did the Chaucer scholars we’ve been reading present themselves (in terms of “voice,” pathos, style, etc.)? Bring a copy of your favorite scholarly essay to class.
|R Dec 9|| WORKSHOP DAY: SEMINAR PAPER SECOND DRAFT DUE (40 points)
Think about: What more do you still plan to do with your seminar paper?
|M Dec 20||SEMINAR PAPER DUE at 2 p.m. in Bliss 152 (our final exam time)|
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