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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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faceTeacher Guides

Magill’s offers their familiar overview.

Masterplots, much the same.

Introduction by Phyllis Hodgson.

 

PowerPoints

 

chaucerGeoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer: Founder of Our Language -- Biographical video overview emphasizing his impact on the English language.

 

A larger-than-life statue of Chaucer, dressed as a Canterbury pilgrim, stands in the Canterbury high street. Details from the Archaeological Society.

statue detail

grave

Westminster Abbey Poet’s Corner -- the tomb of Chaucer.
Click on image to see larger graphic.

pardonerHandouts

Daniel Pogebra’s Introduction includes a group assignment on a student-selected tale.

Background Information

My Background Handout

Note-taking Forms for Pilgrims -- Chart 1 or Chart 2.

Pilgrim Details -- summary for each pilgrim.chanticleer 2

Medieval Job Descriptions

Moral Thermometer

Prologue Study Guide -- short answer questions.

Reading Chaucer Aloud

 

 

Assignments

Art Project -- create a revealing and accurate 3D representation of your character, perhaps a doll, a sculpture, a paper doll, or puppet. AND, your model should also somehow reflect something from the character’s tale.

Banquet Project -- a close reading, an individual character presentation, and a banquet appearance in character, with appropriate food.

Biography Tale -- Your turn to write your own character description, a prologue, and a tale for your original character -- all in rhyming couplets! (NCAE Character Guidelines)

Creative Projects -- A Baker’s Dozen! My favorites.

Dr. John’s Blackberry Jam -- a prewriting prologue construction. Fun.

Job Application -- kinda fun.

Medieval Tabloid -- Group project crearing a medieval newspepr based on The Canterbury Tales.

Modern Day Canterbury Tales -- Pilgrims and Tales appropriate to our time, but in the manner of Chaucer, rhyming couplets and all. Simpler assignment focusing on the modern prologue alone.

Prologue Group Work -- A dozen analytical questions to be answered as a group.

Personal Metaphors for Chaucer -- could also be assigned for well-developed individual pilgrims.

Where Are They Now? -- Small groups will use text-based details to create plausible futures for four pilgrims.

Articles & Criticism

“Geoffrey Chaucer: The Father of English Poetry” by John Fleming presents the College Board justification for teaching a medieval poetic text.

“Avoid the Edifice Complex and Enjoy Teaching Chaucer” by Gary Baugh is an English Journal article presenting an approach that privileges creative writing.

“Chaucer’s Discussion of Marriage” by George Kittredge focuses on tales by the Clerk, the Merchant, the Wife of Bath, and the Franklin.

“Chaucer the Pilgrim” by E. Talbot Donaldson explores Chaucer’s narrative roles.

“Dantean Burlesques in The Canterbury Tales by Matthew Bolton connects The Inferno to The Canterbury Tales.

“A Feminist Perspective on The Canterbury Tales by Rosemary Reisman

Critical Analyses of individual tales --

 

windowUseful Websites

Harvard’s Chaucer Site -- Chaucer’s language and life, background information, sources and the site index, which links to hundreds of primary and secondary sources.

Luminarium Chaucer Site -- includes biography, historical context, and works.

Key Skills with Chaucer -- a British image-based interactive guide, with tale specific discussion points.

Open Access Companion to The Canterbury Tales -- introductory essays for first-time readers. Tools, Text, and Transformation for each Tale!

Visualizing Chaucer -- Site seeks to capture postmedieval illustrated versions of Chaucer’s work. Extensive.

Audio Files

becket windowLibriVox -- Several readers of the Prologue and the Tales.

England: Tales of Canterbury, Becket, and Chaucer -- focuses on the death of Becket and the origin of the pilgrimage.

 

Tests

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Just the Prologue

Prologue & Tales

Essays

 

Illuminated Manuscripts

google letters

Google “illuminated letters coloring pages” and print the letter of your name to color. Have fun.kelmscott th

c multiOR color this page from the Kelmscott manuscript illustrated by William Morris.

If you are really intrigued by medieval manuscripts, learn more from this PowerPoint, which traces manuscript development.

To the tune of “Nowhere Man,” History Teachers Music Video “Illuminated Manuscripts.”

The Animated Canterbury Tales

Academy-nominated Tales are not really for children. Each is illustrated in its own style -- Chanticleer in wood block format; the Knight in an eerie, ghostly style. YouTube has them in a three-part format, better because it includes each tale’s Prologue, as well as the Tale. Part One: Leaving London (Nun’s Priest, Knight, Wife of Bath); Part Two: Arriving at Canterbury (Merchant, Pardoner, Franklin); Part Three: The Journey Back (Squire, Canon’s Servant, Miller, Reeve). Also available individually...

 

Instructional Videos

Course Hero has a YouTube channel with 34 short videos on the background, each pilgrim, and various tales.

First Rate Tutors, a British site, includes an Overview in its 24 short videos, but focuses on summarizing and explaining each tale. Simple visuals, but good notes.

TED Talk: Everything Yuu Need to Know to Read The Canterbury Tales -- This racy introduction , designed to intrigue the reader, starts with “The Miller’s Tale.”

TED Talk: Where Did English Come From?

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Canterbury Tales:
The Play

I am a true devotee of the Theater Guide, or Theatre Guide, even when students cannot possible see the relevant performance. Such guides are usually for an audience, not a classroom. Even though they often include substantial context and analysis, it is the performance, the audience, if you will, which dominates the guide.

 

Royal Shakespeare Society Guide -- Adapted by Mike Poulton, this guide offers an excellent discussion of characters, as well as themes nd historical background. Includes costumed players, for special fun (14 pages)

Guthrie Theater Guide -- Adapted by Michael Bogdanov, this version takes a vaudevillian approach.

Atlanta Shakespeare Company -- This comic version is significantly different from the original.

 

doherty
Adaptations

Canterbury Tales Murder Mysteries by Paul C. Doherty -- These medieval murder mysteries borrow heavily from the original tales, as noted below.
  1. An Ancient Evil (1994) - Knight
  2. A Tapestry of Murders (1994) - Man of Law
  3. A Tournament of Murders (1996) - Franklin
  4. Ghostly Murders (1997) - Parson and Plowman
  5. The Hangman's Hymn (2001) - Carpenter
  6. A Haunt of Murder (2002) - Oxford Clerk
  7. The Midnight Man (2012) - Physician

Read the opening of An Ancient Evil.

Texts

Spark Notes NO FEAR Side-by-Side Online Translation

Caxton’s Chaucer -- The British Library provides full access to both editions printed by Caxton. These are images of the actual pages, so, not really very easy to read. Interesting as reference.

Prologue Simplified -- Michael Murphy’s version modernizes spelling and punctuation and adds introductions and sidenotes, but does not change the text substantially otherwise.

Textbook Exerpt of Prologue -- includes side notes, footnotes, study questions, and illustrations of the Nevill Coghill translation.

Penguin Classics Middle English version is my preferred version, since it includes good footnotes and ample room for notation.McCaughrean

Oxford Illustrated Classics -- Modern prose version by Victor Ambrus, illustrated by Geraldine McCaughrean, offers an easy entrance to the tales.

ackroyd

 

The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling by Peter Ackroyd is modern, readable, thorough, covering 24 tales. It plods a bit, but is definiitely accessible.

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Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Marcia Williams -- A children’s book with excellent illustrations for the Prologue and nine of the Tales.

tappan

The Chaucer Storybook by Eva March Tappan is a simplified version of seven tales, accessible to even elementary students. Offered as part of the University of Oklahoma’s UN-Textbook Series.

 

 

Just for Fun

talesA Chaucerian Cookery -- Attend a medieval feast and check out the recipes.

Medieval and Renaissance Food offers more extensive recipes, not all actually in Chaucer.

NPR’s “Modern Chaucer: Street Talk and a Dance Beat” updates Chaucer, with a risqué language warning. Focuses on its contemporary rebirth.

The Onion’s “All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at the Church Bake Sale”. You know, it is The Onion.

History Teachers, famous for their historical music videos set to familiar modern music have a great one for The Canterbury Tales (Set to “California Dreamin’ ”).chwast

 

The Canterbury Tales, retold in graphic novel format by Seymour Chwast, includes The Prologue and twenty-four tales.

agbabi

 

Telling Tales by Patience Agbibi is a 21st century remix of the originals in vibrant, modern language. Not for everyone. Her Prologue.

History Teachers music video“Canterbury Tales,” set to “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas.

John Derbyshire’s The Sacramento Tales is a hoot.dawkins

Evolutionist Richard Dawkins used The Canterbury Tales as a structure for his2004 book about evolution - The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution. His animal pilgrims are on their way to find the common ancestor, each telling a tale about evolution.

A little difficult to read, but this Medieval Price List is enlightening.

Canterbury Tales Clip Art

Enrichment

knight

A Knight’s Tale -- This 2001 movie is an interesting source for medieval background, but NOT the Knight of the Tales.

Becket

Becket -- Loosely based on Jean Anouilh’s play, this 1964 film is a showcase for two extraordinary actors, presenting a particularly vivid characterization of Henry II.

Becket, or The Honor of God by Jean Anouilh Teacher Guide -- The original play is quite readable. This guide offers background, context, and criticism. Act-by-Act Study Questions.

 

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Canterbury & Pilgrimages

Beautiful Canterbury Cathedral and The Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Cathedral Virtual Tour

Pilgrimage to Canterbury -- a modern re-tracing of the Pilgrims’ steps. Good photographs of contemporary Canterbury, with an insightful discussion of pilgrimages, in general.

Sacred Destinations Travel Blog -- take a modern pilgrimage to Canterbury and see the paths ancient pilgrims walked.

NPR 5-Part Series: The New Canterbury Tales:For the true Anglophile, this series explores how British people live and what they believe through a walk in the footsteps of Geoffrey Chaucer from London to Canterbury. The journey provides an overview of Britain, and the new dramas being played out on its streets and in its rural fields.

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Pilgrim stairs at Canterbury Cathedral
shrine today
Modern shrine at Canterbury Cathedral
mural
Ezra Winter, Canterbury Tales mural (1939), Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C., located on the west wall of the North Reading Room, features the Miller, Host, Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Doctor, Chaucer, Man of Law, Clerk, Manciple, Sailor, Prioress, Nun and three Priests. The other pilgrims appear on the east wall. Merchant, Friar, Monk, Franklin, Wife of Bath, Parson, and the Plowman shown in the partial image below.

winter east

If you download or print anything from this site, please consider making at least a $10.00 donation through PayPal.
I can maintain and expand this website only with your help.

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Updated 8 February 2021.

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