English 201b: Chaucer, the Dream Visions and Troilus and Criseyde
Topics for Essays and Research Project

Book of the Duchess or House of Fame (due Feb 27)

This short essay (4-6 pages) should be based in close reading of a single passage from one of the two poems. You may want to choose from among the following topics:

You may opt for any other passage in either poem that catches your fancy, but try to keep your selection fairly well defined. Your essay should grow out of close reading of this particular passage. Pay special attention to details: what do the various words actually mean? (Use your glossary well!) How are literary tropes (simile, metaphor, etc.) working? What about the verse? Is the rhyme scheme creating particular effects? Are there allusions? How do they work? (Use your notes well too!) Your task is to figure out precisely what the function of this particular passage in the overall project of the poem is. Stay focused! You may have to refer forward or backwards in the poem to make your case, but remember to concentrate on your chosen passage. Your finished essay will, of course, have an introduction and a conclusion, and will develop a coherent argument about the meaning and/or function of your chosen passage.

Formal details: your essay should have a title; it should be double-spaced and in a reasonable font (i.e. 4-6 pages = 1000-1500 words). If you use only the Riverside Chaucer (and you are not required to use secondary sources) then your citations of that text may be parenthetical : (BD 815-17); (HF I, 1-10). You will then provide the full information on your Works Cited page. If you also use a secondary source (perhaps the critical article you read), you may cite it parenthetically (Fyler 52) and then add it to your Works Cited list.


Troilus and Criseyde (due April 9)

As for your first essay, remember to take full advantage of glossary and notes; explore allusions and think about the sources Chaucer is drawing on when you can. Note that you may have to read ahead in the poem to address some of these questions.

Research Project (due April

You may choose virtually any topic that interests you for this project, and develop it either into an essay or into something creative. In either case, you need to choose a general area for research early (right after spring break). You may not know what form your project will take until you are well launched on your research. Here are some possible areas of exploration:

If you were to choose a creative project (say that you decide to write an ending for The House of Fame, in verse) you would probably find yourself doing research on several of these topics. If you wanted to produce an illuminated manuscript, or a series of illustrations to Troilus and Criseyde, you'd have to do research on medieval books, costumes, etc. You get the idea. Your annotated bibliography for the project will be due April 12.

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