Project Proposer/s: Dr Olivia (Liv) Robinson
This project supports and enhances the delivery of the Undergraduate 2nd Year Histories Module The Canterbury Tales by investigating the ways in which some key Tales were reimagined and recreated, both during Chaucer’s own lifetime and in the present day. You’ll have the opportunity to explore how and why particular Tales have been retold – poetically, but also on film and on the stage - and you’ll work with Liv to produce a set of resources to guide future second-year students on the Canterbury Tales module through your research questions, processes and findings. (The format of these resources will be designed collaboratively between you and Liv.) You’ll choose at least one of the Tales you focus on, so that you can build on your own interests. You’ll develop your own research plan (with Liv’s support); and you’ll also undertake some independent archival work at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
What the researcher will do
The material to be researched will fall into three areas:
1) Other medieval Canterbury Tales. Starting with the Wife of Bath’s Tale, you’ll read and research some different medieval retellings of the particular stories told by two of Chaucer’s pilgrims, thinking about what differences and similarities you notice and why they might be important. (One of the two narratives will be the Wife of Bath’s Tale and you may choose the other if you wish; Liv will guide you with some bibliography).
2) The BBC Canterbury Tales (2003). You’ll watch footage of relevant adaptations undertaken by the BBC and you’ll compare the retellings with Chaucer’s versions, in order to create a list of key moments in the adaptations, and core critical questions around those moments. (You can choose, if you like, to focus on the same two tales that you covered for point 1.)
3) The RSC Canterbury Tales (2005-6). You’ll search for the available archival material on the 2006 RSC stage production of the Canterbury Tales, and you’ll visit the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archive to investigate this material (which might include costume logs, images, rehearsal or performance footage, prompt books, scripts…). Again, you’ll be asking yourself how the RSC stage adaptation creatively reworked Chaucer’s version of the Tales, and what key critical questions it raised through that process.
The final phase of the project will be to create one or more teaching resources using the material you have uncovered, to help future students on the module to explore these questions.
Skills required by the Scholarship holder
- Essential: The scholarship holder EITHER needs to have completed (and enjoyed!) the Canterbury Tales Histories module, OR to have some prior familiarity with Middle English literature in the original language via a different module: some prior experience of reading texts in Middle English is essential for this project.
- Essential: Enthusiasm for and interest in medieval literature and culture, esp. Chaucer.
- Essential: Teamwork and communication skills
- Essential: Care and precision in taking notes and writing research up
- Essential: Good communication skills: clear and precise written prose; good oral communication skills
- Desirable: An interest in film and/or theatre
- Desirable: An interest in creative writing
How will your Project benefit the Scholarship holder
- You’ll be able to take your existing interest in Chaucer further, choosing at least one Tale of your own to specialise in.
- You’ll have the opportunity to undertake independent and guided archival research in The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: this project would especially benefit someone interested in library and information management, archival work and heritage work, as well as academic research.
- You’ll have the opportunity to work with Liv to design a teaching resource for your peers and future students: this project would, therefore, also be of especial interest to someone considering a career in teaching, or public engagement/communication in (e.g.) the museums or heritage sector.
- There is also potential for this work to feed into an eventual dissertation project.