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Ch 21: NES ELA: Literature in Old English & Middle English

About This Chapter

Get up to speed on Old and Middle English literature for the National Evaluation Series (NES) English Language Arts (ELA) exam with these engaging video lessons and interactive practice quizzes.

NES ELA: Literature in Old English & Middle English - Chapter Summary

Use the resources in this chapter to refresh your memory on Old and Middle English literature. Study for the NES ELA exam with lessons on the following topics and works:

  • Historical context and language use in medieval literature
  • Chaucer's use of Middle English and The Canterbury Tales
  • The Canterbury Tales General Prologue
  • Selected stories from The Canterbury Tales

This chapter is broken down into a series of short video lessons that clearly and concisely explain topics you'll need to know for the NES ELA exam. Watch the lessons as many times as you'd like, or skip to specific points with the timeline tags. Test your knowledge at the end of each lesson with a short self-assessment quiz covering the major lesson points.

NES ELA: Literature in Old English & Middle English - Chapter Objectives

The NES ELA exam is part of the teacher certification process in some states. You'll answer 150 multiple-choice questions on reading, literature and communications. The practice questions in this chapter will give you an idea of the types of questions you'll be asked on the exam.

Use the lessons in this study guide to get ready for questions on Old and Middle English literature in the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature subarea of the NES ELA exam. This exam section accounts for approximately 23% of the total test score. You'll be asked to demonstrate your proficiency in analyzing the thematic, formal and stylistic characteristics of various periods in literature, as well show a working knowledge of the historical, political and social factors that impact and shape literature.

7 Lessons in Chapter 21: NES ELA: Literature in Old English & Middle English
Introduction to Medieval Literature: Old English, Middle English, and Historical Context

1. Introduction to Medieval Literature: Old English, Middle English, and Historical Context

We'll go over some quick medieval history to situate some of the major literary works of the time period. We're going from Caedmon and Beowulf, writing in Old English, all the way up to Sir Thomas Malory's collections of the Arthur myths in late Middle English.

Introduction to Chaucer: Middle English and the Canterbury Tales

2. Introduction to Chaucer: Middle English and the Canterbury Tales

In this lesson, we'll introduce medieval writer Geoffrey Chaucer. We'll take a look at his life, his most famous works, including 'The Canterbury Tales,' and we'll spend some time learning how to read Middle English.

The Canterbury Tales General Prologue: Style, Structure, and Characters

3. The Canterbury Tales General Prologue: Style, Structure, and Characters

In this lesson, we'll go over the General Prologue to Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. We'll take a look at some of the most interesting pilgrims and establish the frame narrative for the rest of the work.

The Knight's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale: Two Approaches to Chivalric Romance

4. The Knight's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale: Two Approaches to Chivalric Romance

In this lesson, we'll outline some of the key features of the medieval genre of chivalric romance. Then we'll talk about two very different tales that are examples of this genre: The Knight's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale.

The Miller's Tale: Chaucer's Fabulous Fabliau

5. The Miller's Tale: Chaucer's Fabulous Fabliau

In this lesson we'll talk about the medieval genre of fabliau, which is full of wonderfully low-brow humor. We'll also discuss the plot of the Miller's Tale, a fabliau about a carpenter and his straying wife.

The Nun's Priest's Tale: The Beast Fable of the Canterbury Tales

6. The Nun's Priest's Tale: The Beast Fable of the Canterbury Tales

In this lesson, we'll go over the medieval beast fable genre and take a look at the Nun's Priest's Tale, one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales that is illustrative of the genre.

The Prioress's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale: Chaucer's Two Religious Fables

7. The Prioress's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale: Chaucer's Two Religious Fables

In this lesson, we'll take a look at The Prioress's Tale and The Pardoner's Tale to get a better sense of the types of tales told by religious members of the pilgrimage party.

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