Chaucer: Canterbury Tales

Course Number: ENGL 152A
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 152A
Quarter: Winter 2014
Day(s): MW
Time: 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: ARTS 1356

Scenes of rape and of what we might call "ambiguous consent" function, explicitly or obliquely, in a number of Geoffrey Chaucer's texts. What are we to make of all this? As statistics of sexual assault on college campuses continue to remain high, the subject of Chaucer and consent has urgent and long-term relevance for students and teachers of medieval English literature. The matter is further complicated by the fact that Chaucer was himself accused of rape in 1380. Because the matter was never brought to trial, this situation remains disturbingly shrouded in mystery. How are we to reconcile our admiration for Chaucer's powers of representation to his possible identity as a rapist in ways that feel responsible to issues of gender and power? This class will read The Canterbury Tales through the lens of female consent, dissent, and silence to chart the ambiguities of consent that he narrates, and tease out the implications of the various ways we could interpret Chaucer's vexed representations of sexual relationships.