Ch 10: Anglo Saxon and Medieval Literature

About This Chapter

Watch Anglo Saxon and medieval literature video lessons and read about important Old English and Middle English literary texts. These lessons are just a portion of our online study guide and video collection.

Anglo Saxon and Medieval Literature - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

This chapter starts with a general introduction to medieval literature, which is composed of both Old English and Middle English texts. You'll analyze the Old English poem, Beowulf, looking at the story and list of characters. Lessons also explore the style and structure of the Middle English work, The Canterbury Tales. You'll learn about chivalric romances of this literary period by comparing The Knight's Tale with The Wife of Bath's Tale. Lessons end with an examination of Chaucer's religious fables. After completing this chapter, you should have an understanding of:

  • The historical context of medieval literature
  • Differences between Old and Middle English
  • The style, structure and characters of The Canterbury Tales
  • Religious fables and their role in Middle English literature
  • Chivalric romances and their relation to medieval literature

Video Objective
Introduction to Medieval Literature: Old English, Middle English, and Historical Context Learn about the historical and political elements behind Old and Middle English literature.
Beowulf: Story, Characters, and Old English Study the story and characters of the Old English poem, Beowulf.
Introduction to Chaucer: Middle English and The Canterbury Tales Explore Chaucer's Middle English text, The Canterbury Tales.
The Canterbury Tales General Prologue: Style, Structure and Characters Analyze the style, structure and characters of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, paying close attention to the general prologue.
The Knight's Tale and The Wife of Bath's Tale: Two Approaches to Chivalric Romances Grasp different approaches to chivalric romances in medieval literature, looking at specific literary examples.
The Miller's Tale: Chaucer's Fabulous Fabliau Study the Middle English text, The Miller's Tale, by Chaucer, and its function as a fabliau.
The Nun's Priest's Tale: The Beast Fable of The Canterbury Tales Analyze the role of the beast fable in The Canterbury Tales.
The Prioress' Tale and The Pardoner's Tale: Chaucer's Two Religious Fables Examine Chaucer's religious fables and their relation to medieval literary functions.

8 Lessons in Chapter 10: Anglo Saxon and Medieval Literature
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
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.

Beowulf: Story, Characters, and Old English

2. Beowulf: Story, Characters, and Old English

In this lesson, we'll take a look at the Old English epic, Beowulf. We'll explore what happens, how it's written and why it has such a lasting legacy.

Introduction to Chaucer: Middle English and the Canterbury Tales

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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