WiSe 18/19: S-Literatures of Medieval Britain: Modernity and Alterity in the Literature of Medieval Britain II: Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde
Set at the time of the Trojan War, the tragedy of Troilus and Cressida tells how the warrior Troilus, son of the Trojan king Priam, falls in love with Cressida, a beautiful young widow, with the two ... read more
Set at the time of the Trojan War, the tragedy of Troilus and Cressida tells how the warrior Troilus, son of the Trojan king Priam, falls in love with Cressida, a beautiful young widow, with the two being finally forced apart by the events of the war. The ancient story was well-known in medieval Britain and in Elizabethan times, retold and adapted by Geoffrey Chaucer, Robert Henryson, William Shakespeare, John Dryden, and others. Our emphasis will be on Chaucer's version, but we will also consider some of the major differences apparent in Robert Henryson's 'sequel' The Testament of Cresseid. Geoffrey Chaucer's adaptation of the ancient story is generally recognized as one of the finest poems of the English language. As Nevill Coghill stated in his edition of the romance, published in 1974, Chaucer ‘skilfully combines elements of comedy and tragedy to form an exquisite meditation on the fragility of romantic love, and the fallibility of humanity’. Apart from these aspects, we will discuss Chaucer's concept of manliness and the psychological development of the female protagonist.
Required edition: Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, edited by Barry Windeatt (London: Penguin, 2003); or The Riverside Chaucer, general editor Larry D. Benson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987, 3rd edition, 2008).
Language of instruction: English. Required language level: C1-C2.
Assessment: Participants will be expected to read allocated passages of the work in advance to each session and to take an active part in class discussion. The final mark will be based on participation in class and on a 4,000-word final essay.