Monday, November 12, 2007

Textual editing again - a snag

I don't think I'm going to be able to build a textual editing project into my Chaucer class. There are just too many other goals I have for the class and too many assignments to go with them. I want to make sure students comprehend the language and analyze it on a close level, but I've got translation and close reading assignments for that. And from there I want to talk about things genre, readerly expectations, Chaucer's literary world and the "conversations" he's participating in, and the critical conversations today. And I'm going to attempt to do not just the Tales, but Troilus and at least two dream visions, as well. (I have this fun exercise where students write their own "Chaucerian" dream vision, albeit in prose and present day American English. It makes them have to think about the persona of the author and about what contributes to an author's style, among other things.)

But I am going to do this in the Middle English class, where language is the focus, and textuality is important to issues of transmission. And there I'll have a lot more texts that don't have student editions yet available, or, if I choose Chaucer, they can compare multiple student editions and arrive at what they think is "best."

Nevertheless, I'm going to stress in the Chaucer class that their texts are in many ways modern fictions, and that even their medieval counterparts are slippery entities, which sits well with any number of issues and themes brought up in the texts themselves, starting, perhaps with the "Adam Scriveyn" poem. And I'll still show them lots of manuscript page images in various facsimiles.

2 comments:

Bardiac said...

Oh, your dream vision assignment sounds cool! Mind sharing?

The crux busters are working really well for my students! I'm going to modify my version a bit and use it again next year.

And guess who gets a Chaucer course in fall! /happy dance!

tempestsarekind said...

I'm never quite sure how to approach textual issues in class. I gave a little potted history of the different texts of Hamlet in my last sections; in my first section, they all seemed a bit bored, but in my second, at least a few students were taking notes. So that's something, I suppose. Mainly I'm just trying to get them to realize that all those abreviations and phrases in the Textual Notes actually *mean* something!

Also, I always feel a bit sorry for Adam in that poem. I don't quite know why, though.