In this course, the fourteenth-century English courtier, social critic, and scoundrel, Geoffrey Chaucer, will serve as chief muse for learning the basic skills and methods of humanities research. Chaucer may be the most talented poet and storyteller ever to have written the English language, yet the dialect in which he wrote renders him notoriously difficult for modern readers to approach. Few realize that with only a handful of simple tools and a bit of honest practice, even novices can unlock the door to Chaucer’s literary world. Inside they find a surprisingly accessible artistic voice, which combines the dramatic timing of Shakespeare with the elegant simplicity of E.B. White, the charmingly hilarious self-deprecation of Tina Fey with the soulfully funny insight of Louis C.K. or Dave Chappelle. As a seminar, we will draw on Chaucer’s imagination and talent to inspire individual research into any period and any concentration interest that students wish to pursue. We will study, in addition to Chaucer’s work, stories that he inspired, such as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), and stories that inspired him, such as Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. Previous enthusiasm for the Middle Ages will be helpful, but not necessarily required. The only true prerequisites for the course are an open mind and a willingness to try something new.