Romance from Chaucer to Shakespeare (EAS3228)

30 credits

Chivalric romances are cousins of today’s novels and can be just as fanciful or sophisticated in handling the problems of living and of living with others. This module explores narratives from the twelfth to the seventeenth centuries, with a special focus on the ways that romances recognize the dark side of the aristocratic values they champion. We read texts of vast and expanding influence and texts long forgotten, and spend two weeks on Chaucer’s greatest love story, Troilus and Criseyde—regarded as highly as The Canterbury Tales and especially admired for its complex heroine. Alongside Arthur, Lancelot and Robin Hood, less well-known inventions such as the fairy-child Degaré and Bisclavret the werewolf-knight reveal the fascinating mixture of the poetic and the sensationalist with which medieval romances address the most challenging personal, social and ideological issues of their time. The western and Disney’s medievalism provide a post-medieval vantage point on romance.