Fantasy in Middle English, Chaucer and beyond

Geoffrey Chaucer as a pilgrim in the Ellesmere manuscript. Image credit*

Washington College English Professor Corey Olsen (a.k.a. The Tolkien Professor) is back with Faerie and Fantasy (website, iTunes) a new literature course focusing on fantasy and magic in English literature. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Chaucer and other medievals, here’s your chance. Olson offers a quick tutorial in Middle English to get you started, although you can cheat with translated texts like the ones available at Harvard’s Chaucer page.

I dipped into the course to listen to Olson’s lively classes on Chaucer’s famous The Wife of Bath’s Tale (classes 10 & 11). I prepared by listening to Olsen’s narration of the Tale while following along with the Harvard interlinear translation. Listening to these classes help me better appreciate Chaucer’s subtlety and artistry, as well as understand some of the medieval conventions he worked with. As the course continues, Olsen plans to cover more modern forays into fantasy such as Andrew Lang’s fairy tale collections, and writings by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

For  another tutorial in Middle English  and for more about Chaucer,  check out Harvard’s Chaucer page.

Image credit: Wikipedia.  Public domain.
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