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Ch 13: Literature in Old English & Middle English

About This Chapter

Use these lessons to examine the writings of the medieval period, with an emphasis on ''The Canterbury Tales.'' Look at several of the stories that make up Geoffrey Chaucer's work and explore their literary meanings.

Literature in Old English & Middle English - Chapter Summary

This chapter's lessons review medieval literature and their historical context. Our instructors focus on Geoffrey Chaucer and several of the stories that comprise The Canterbury Tales. After completing these lessons, you should be familiar with:

  • Old English and Middle English
  • The historical context of medieval literature
  • Style, structure and characters of The Canterbury Tales
  • Chivalric romance in The Knight's Tale and The Wife of Bath's Tale
  • The Miller's Tale
  • The Nun's Priest Tale
  • Religious fables in The Canterbury Tales

These lessons average about five minutes in length, and you can watch them on a computer, tablet or smartphone as your schedule allows. Lesson quizzes and a chapter exam let you assess your learning, and a clickable Timeline makes it easy to pop back to specific parts of the lesson for review.

7 Lessons in Chapter 13: Literature in Old English & Middle English
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.

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.

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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