LTEN 107 Paper Topics
Papers will be collected at the beginning of class on February 28; late papers may receive fewer or no comments and will receive lower grades, up to one full grade per 24 hours. Only documented legitimate medical or personal emergencies will excuse late work. If an emergency arises, you must let me know as soon as possible and I will do my best to accommodate your needs.  It is your responsibility to keep me informed, and, indeed, I can’t help you if I don’t know that there is a problem.
Please save all the materials that you use in preparation for writing the paper, (i.e. notes, drafts, outlines etc.).  If you do all of your work on a computer, I would recommend making frequent, secure back-ups or printing a hard copy of your work.  I’m very confident that everyone in the class wants to produce his or her original work, but if there are any questions about the originality of student work, items such as preparation material can greatly aid in evaluating academic integrity.  See references to UCSD policy on Academic Integrity below.

Your paper should have a title.  There is no need for cover sheets or folders.  These papers are a more formal assignment than the weekly thinksheets and should be proofread carefully and carefully formatted prior to submission.  They will be graded on content and argumentation, but the quality of the writing is also important.  Outstanding writing can only help the paper; poor or sloppy writing will detract from it. You are welcome to consult outside sources for your paper, but it is also possible to write an outstanding paper using only Mann’s edition of Chaucer and whatever primary sources might be noted in certain prompts. Please consult me if you any questions at all about source use or need help with citations.  

Option One: These papers should be 6-7 pages long, double-space typed, 12 point font with one inch margins on all sides of the page.  

1.  The Clerk’s Tale has sources in the writings of Boccaccio and Petrarch.  Read these two earlier versions and write a paper that compares Chaucer’s version with one or two of his sources.  How did Chaucer’s changes to an earlier source impact his version?  What does it tell us about his version? Links to sources here.

2.  Chaucer translated The Consolation of Philosophy.  It treats the role of Fortune and fate in human life and how human beings can approach trial and adversity.   For this assignment you should read this text (the library also has copies available).  Pick one of the Canterbury Tales that we have read and discuss how you think Chaucer is using Boethian ideas in it. 

3. “Gentilesse.”  Read Chaucer’s lyric on the topic and compare the concept as it explored in that poem and one of the following tales:  Knight’s Tale, Wife of Bath’s Tale, Franklin’s Tale

4.  “Privitee.”  This word appears so many times in the Miller’s Tale.  Write a paper that interprets the role of the word in the tale. 

5. The scholar Kittredge has suggested that the Franklin’s Tale brings together and reconciles the issues of marriage in what Kittredge calls the “marriage group” (The Wife of Bath’s, Clerk’s, Merchant’s and Franklin’s Tales).  Do you agree with this assessment?  Write an essay that explains why or why not?* 

*This question adapted from one created by my friend and colleague Prof. Frank Grady

Option Two: Chaucer Scholarship

For this paper you will write a 5-6 pp. double-spaced review of a scholarly work related to our course readings. 

A list of possible texts to choose from is available here. Some of these works are a bit long. You can work with me to decide which portions you will read.

Your review should have two main elements:

It should summarize the main arguments of the work, explaining carefully the author’s thesis and the evidence used to support this thesis.  Reviews can either take a holistic approach or summarize chapter by chapter.  Using the latter approach, in addition to a more general overview is probably the best approach for someone new to reviewing. 
Scholarly reviews typically also evaluate the book in relation to other work in the field and may also critique the arguments presented.  You are welcome to try this, but it might be difficult as a beginning Chaucerian.  Instead you may approach the review as a student.  Is this work helpful for Chaucer students?  What did you learn from it?  How did it change the way you view Chaucer or read the Canterbury Tales?  Would you recommend it to other students of Chaucer?   

Here is an example of a review I wrote.

Alternatively, if there is a topic you are really interested in, please let me know and I can find a book/set of articles for you to read and review.

Here is a list of possible texts to choose from. The list provides author/title and call number at our library. If you are having trouble locating the book, check at the information desk on the main floor of Geisel library.

If there is another topic you're interested in, please let me know and I'll try to help you find a reading.

Option Three: Afterlives of Chaucer

For this (6-7 page) paper you would choose a contemporary work about Chaucer and write an analysis showing how it illuminates a central element of Chaucer's work.

For example, in the poetry collection Telling Tales, Patience Agbabi poems refer back to individual tales, sometimes making more prominent a voice or perspective in the original tale or intensifying a particular element. Your paper would discuss this artistic choice and your thesis would explain how the modern work illuminates/contradicts/reveres (etc.) or otherwise engages with Chaucer's original and present your opinion about the impact of that artistic choice.

Agbabi's brilliant collection is a good place to start with this kind of project because the individual poems are relatively brief. The collection Refugee Tales is another possibility and there are other contemporary takes on Chaucer's works. Please let me know if you are choosing a work other than Agbabi's to use so that I can help make sure your topic is feasible given the constraints of the quarter system. Telling Tales and Refugee Tales are on reserve at Geisel Library.

These papers should be 6-7 pages long, double-space typed, 12 point font with one inch margins on all sides of the page. 

Plagiarism and Integrity of Scholarship are serious issues.  The term “plagiarism,” which comes from the Latin root, plagiarius (kidnapper), means stealing someone else’s writing or idea and passing it off as your own.    Please be aware that I will be enforcing University policies on integrity of scholarship and that violations can result in a failing grade in the class or dismissal from UCSD.   If you have any questions about what plagiarism or academic dishonesty are, please do contact me immediately and I’ll be happy to help you learn more about how to cite works you consult, whether they are printed, internet or other sources.   Please also consult the University’s policy primary on these issues, which can be read here.

Some Formatting Guidelines for Citation in Papers
First of all, titles of books, plays, films and long poems like The Canterbury Tales are italicized or underlined.  Please put individual sections of the text, such as the “Clerk’s Tale,” in quotation marks. When you first cite a text, you should tell your reader what text you are using.  We’re all using the same text, but it is important to learn how to cite properly. For example, if I wanted to cite the first four lines of “General Prologue,” I would format it like so:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veine in swich licour

Of vertu engendred is the flour (ll. 1-4).

This quotation is set off from the rest of the paper (indented five spaces from the left margin).

If I want to quote fewer than four lines, I set them directly into the body of the paper instead of embedding them.  The Prioress, for example, is not prone to great curses: “Hir gretteste ooth was but ‘by Seinte Loy,” (GP, l. 120).   Note that I have included “GP” for “General Prologue” in my reference.  If you have not made it clear where in the CT the lines come from, be sure to include this.   When you make your first reference to our book you want to footnote it.

My recommendation for Option One is assignment is to use only primary texts, i.e. read the medieval work or works and do your own interpretive thinking.  If you do want to see what scholars have had to say, then books used as secondary sources are cited in the same way as primary sources are.  

You’ll want to make sure which reference in the Works Cited is being referenced, but you can refer to it using parenthetical page citation.  See the citation format for articles in the Works Cited below.  How do you cite an article?  Here’s an example, “The Prioress and her tale have the best of both worlds: they invite challenge, yet leave no opening.”   Of course there’s more types of materials out there to cite besides books and articles. For more than you ever wanted to know on citation format illustrated here see the MLA Handbook or The Chicago Manual of Style.  Both are in the reference section of our library. Whichever style of citation you use, the most important thing is that you give credit where credit is due and that you are clear and consistent in your style.  A good website for exploration documentation is:

This handout is based on and adapted from a handout given to a class by Sue Schweik, a Professor in the English Dept. at UC Berkeley. When you use someone else's work in any way, you must cite that work. This includes websites

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales.  Ed. Jill Mann. New York: Penguin, 2005.

Condren, Edward I. “The Prioress: A Legend of Spirit, A Life of Flesh.” The Chaucer Review 23 (1989): 192-217.

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, ed. Jill Mann (New York: Penguin, 2005), page number. Subsequent references will be cited in the text. 

Edward I. Condren, “The Prioress: A Legend of Spirit, A Life of Flesh,” The Chaucer Review 23 (1989): 192.

For option two ask me for a sample of typical formatting and I'll send you one.