Grade: Senior
Subject: Literature

#2025. Canterbury Tales: A Table for Twelve

Literature, level: Senior
Posted Wed Nov 22 11:49:54 PST 2000 by Aimee ().
Brick Township HS, Brick, NJ USA
Materials Required: text of Canterbury Tales, large paper, markers, magazine clippings, internet access
Activity Time: 1.5 class periods plus homework
Concepts Taught: characterization; understanding of cultural impact on literature

(I heard about the basics of this lesson in college, and have since adapted it to the times and added a few extras. I wish I could attribute it to someone, but I don't know where it came from!)

Students are to relate their knowledge of the Canterbury pilgrims and facets of the culture of the Middle Ages from "The Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales to this assignment.

Student Task:
You are the host of the Drabat Inn and the weary pilgrims of The Canterbury Tales have arrived for a short rest. It is your task to seat them at the dinner table for twelve people. You must set it up according to whom will get along best, or, if you are a troublemaker, set it up according to whom will get along worst!

You have been given background information in the form of a work in progress entitled "Prologue," which is being written by the leader of the group. This work summarizes each of the pilgrims and their individual character traits, along with their socio-economic statuses and fashion tastes. The most pertinent information is primarily shown indirectly through actions, so this is no easy task!

Your Drabat Inn supervisor has requested that you write a rationale for each seating arrangement that you assign. Along with this rationale, you must provide a chart illustrating the seating arrangement. To receive a bonus, you may also make place cards and a menu that would "cater" to the taste of the pilgrims.

You also happen to be a very nosy host, so "record" one of the conversations that you overhear at the table.

Each rationale should be at least one paragraph in length, and should contain sufficient evidence from the text to prove the choice that has been made. These rationales should be typed in report form, as if it were being presented to a supervisor. The conversation should be of sufficient length, and relevant to the characters and how they are portrayed by Chaucer.

The seating chart should be as creative as possible. Students find it amusing to cast celebrities as the pilgrims when they complete the seating chart. This is acceptable, as long as the reference is relevant. Regarding the menu, I recommend a visit to the Internet to find examples of "authentic" Middle Age cuisine.

Breakdown of grade
Logistics and Appearance: 15 points each
Rationale: 35 points
Conversation: 35 points
Extras: from 1 to 5 points each