Tales of Mirth and Morality: Readings from Medieval Literature

Hailey Stapleton as the Wife of Bath

Hailey Stapleton as the Wife of Bath

The Studies in Medieval Literature class (ENGL 3376) recently held an evening of recitations from the Canterbury Tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This “Tales of Mirth and Morality” assignment allows students to practice their oral presentation skills while showcasing their abilities to read Middle English expressively – and what better way to appreciate the sounds of medieval poetry than by hearing it spoken aloud.

Joseph Legere as the drunken MIller

Joseph Legere as the drunken Miller

Students selected and rehearsed up to a five-minute passage, some reciting alone and some in pairs. This year, tales of mirth definitely predominated, with the Wife of Bath, the Pardoner, the Miller, and the Merchant the focus of multiple readings, but Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the absurd lovers in the Knight’s Tale also got their share of attention.

Andrew Potter as the Pardoner and Grace Shaw as a "riotour"

Andrew Potter as the Pardoner and Grace Shaw as a “riotour”

The evening ended with the Pardoner’s attempt to sell us insurance for our journey along with the Host’s and Knight’s responses, spoken by Colton Sherman in the voices of William Shatner, Matthew McConaughey, and Sean Connery  – apparently for no other reason than general mirth and joy in storytelling, an apt conclusion to the event.

For those of you who know the Miller’s Tale, we leave you with highlights from the window scene:

Scenes from the Miller's Tale. Thomas Jared Whitman

Scenes from the Miller’s Tale. Thomas Jared Whitman

— Anna Smol

Terms of Engagement: Teaching & Learning in the English Department

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