Monday, July 25, 2005

Bard of the Middle Ages: The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

Back in November I recorded a 'college course on CD' for Recorded Books. It was a great deal of fun, though I learned that standing in a booth and speaking for eight hours is a lot more exhausting than I had imagined.

A few people have written to say that they had been able to check out the course from their local libraries. Now it is available on the Recorded Books website, if you'd like to order it: Drout's Chaucer Course.

It's actually an expanded version of the Chaucer course I teach at Wheaton, which only covers the Canterbury Tales. Here I work through the complete Chaucer canon. There are seven CDs, each with two 35-minute lectures, and a course book that I wrote that includes summaries, essay and discussion questions and some really nice illustrations (which the Recorded Books people picked, and which, I have to say, are better than anything I would have come up with).

One of the important things I learned while writing and recording the course is how much time I spend in class on discussion. Student speaking takes up, if my calculations are right, more than 50% of each class. That's why we only cover the CT in a whole semester. I think that the students learn much more that way, and having to speak a lot keeps them awake (I hope).

By the way, I was only allowed two pages of notes for each lecture, so the talks are ex tempore rather than just read aloud. I think that makes them easier to listen to. Please let me know what you think.

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