About This Chapter
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- Verify you're ready by completing the Old and Middle English chapter exam.
Why it works:
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Students will review:
In this chapter, you'll learn the answers to questions including:
- What is Beowulf about, and what is its literary legacy?
- How did Geoffrey Chaucer structure and style The Canterbury Tales?
- What are some of the unique qualities found in chivalric romances?
- How does Chaucer's 'The Miller's Tale' stand out as a medieval fabliau?
- What is a medieval beast fable?
- What religious fables can be found in The Canterbury Tales?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9. Arthurian Legend: Stories, Characters & Summaries
Arthurian legend tells the fictional story of King Arthur's reign in British royalty. It is a story filled with love, romance, and betrayal. Learn more about the origins of Arthurian legend, characters in these stories, and test your knowledge with a quiz.
10. Chaucer's The Wife Of Bath: Summary & Analysis
'The Wife of Bath's Tale' is one of the stories written by author Geoffrey Chaucer in 'The Canterbury Tales.' Learn more about 'The Wife of Bath's Tale' and test your knowledge with a quiz.
11. Fabliau: Definition & Examples from Chaucer
Who knew the French could be so lewd? In this lesson, we'll learn about the fabliau - those vulgar, funny, and oftentimes obscene stories which were popular in France during the Middle Ages. We'll look to 'The Canterbury Tales' for three great examples.
12. Hrothgar: Character & Sermon
In the epic poem, 'Beowulf', Hrothgar is King of the Danes and lord of the great hall, Heorot. After Beowulf kills Grendel and Grendel's mother, Hrothgar gives Beowulf a pep-talk of sorts--advice that can arguably be applied to anyone today.
13. Old English: Definition & Examples
Old English literature started with the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth century, and it provides the foundation for all English literature. Learn more about the history of Old English literature in this lesson.
14. Satire in The Canterbury Tales
We've all heard jokes about various strange groups walking into bars, but what about a bunch of pilgrims at an inn? Come explore the barbed humor of Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' in this lesson as we see how he uses laughs to highlight old class struggles.
15. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Summary & Characters
In the days of King Arthur, while he and his knights are celebrating the New Year, a green knight brings a challenge to the Round Table. One of the knights must chop off the Green Knight's head with his own ax, only to have the challenge returned the following year to the day. This is a tale of Camelot. Find out what happens in this analysis of 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.'
16. Venerable Bede: Life & Works
Venerable Bede was a priest who lived from 672-735 A.D. He is also known as the first historian in the English language. In this lesson, we will look at his biography and life accomplishments.
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Other chapters within the College English Literature: Help and Review course
- Literary Terms and Analysis: Help and Review
- Poetic Types & Styles
- Intro to English Literature: Help and Review
- The Renaissance in English Literature: Help and Review
- 17th and 18th Century English Literature: Help and Review
- Romantic Prose in English Literature: Help and Review
- Romantic Poetry in English Literature: Help and Review
- Victorian Literature: Help and Review
- Turn-of-the-Century Literature: Help and Review
- Modernism in English Literature: Help and Review
- Nonfiction in English Literature: Help and Review