The panel concludes its summer reading of The Canterbury Tales with a look at penitence, sin, and freedom in The Parson’s Tale, and then considers whether Chaucer’s Retraction (Boece excluded!) is an appropriate end to the Tales and to Chaucer’s oeuvre.
In the penultimate episode covering the Canterbury Tales, the panel discusses the potential links between Fragments VIII and IX, the morals of the tales included in them, particularly Cecilia’s active piety and the Manciple’s reserved discretion.
The panel discusses the final two tales in Fragment VII: the tragic vignettes of unfortunate individuals described in The Monk’s Tale, and the jolly (and much beloved) fable of the rooster Chanticleer and the wily Fox in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale.
The panel considers vice in the Shipman’s tale and piety in the Prioress’ tale, before moving on to examine Chaucer’s humble self-depiction in his rollicking minstrel song, The Tale of Sir Thopas, and in his dialogue on Prudence, The Tale of Melibee.
The panel looks at the honor-before-death connexion between Fragment V and Fragment VI as exemplified by Virginia in the Physician’s Tale, and then considers the multiple levels of moral instruction on offer in the boldly hypocritical Pardoner’s Tale.
The panel discusses Fragment V, with attention given both to scholarly theories about whether Chaucer deliberately left the Squire’s tale interrupted and unfinished, and to Chaucer’s use of estates satire in his depiction of the Franklin and his tale.
The panel discusses Fragment IV, containing two tales that deal with men who deliberately engage in unequal marriages to both good and ill results, and considers what these tales demonstrate about historical critiques of progress and the human condition.
Clinton Collister joins the panel to discuss Fragment III and its potential connexions to The Man of Law’s Tale (Fragment II), with a focus on the role of justice, legalism, crime, intent, contractual obligations, and the judicial purpose of punishment.
The panel examines The Man of Law’s Tale and scholarly arguments about whether it is suited to its putative teller, and consider the tale’s depictions of crime and justice (temporal and divine), constancy, providence, misadventure, and religious strife.
Leaving behind the Knight’s noble depictions of courtly love, the panel descends through bawdy, sexual misadventures in the form of ‘quites’–narrative responses–offered by the drunken Miller and the vengeful Reeve, and the Cook’s incomplete tale.
In the second part of the Canterbury Tales series, the panel reads selections from The Knight’s Tale, with a focus on how the three shines–to Venus, to Mars, and to Diana–serve as an interpretive device, and on the connexion to Boethian philosophy.
In the first week of the Canterbury Tales series, the panel reviews the biography of Geoffrey Chaucer, introduces the Canterbury Tales in general, and then reads selections from the General Prologue, with emphasis on Chaucer’s development of character.