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Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“Chaucer's Canterbury Tales” is a four-week school teacher seminar for participants on Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, held in London with additional site visits to Canterbury and Oxford. Co-project directors David Raybin (Eastern Illinois University) and Susanna Fein (Kent State University), co-editors of The Chaucer Review, lead this summer project on Chaucer’s “masterpiece of narrative styles, dramatic voices, interwoven themes, and poetic expressions.”  In their exploration of Chaucer’s “wide range of social networks,” as well as his “mastery of rhetoric and tone,” participants connect their literal and intellectual journey to that taken by Chaucer’s pilgrims from London’s Tabard Inn to the shrine of St. Thomas of Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Participants read the tales in the original Middle English, while absorbing “a great deal of knowledge by exposure to locales associated with Chaucer” in London, in Canterbury, and in Oxford.  The participants progress through the General Prologue and twenty-four tales, while making discoveries about the “distance that separates us from the lived details of Chaucer’s fourteenth-century England; about the continuities of artistry, philosophy, emotion, and meaning that render Chaucer’s writings still important;” and about how shared responses by readers to the work lead to “understandings inherently richer than what might be achieved by reading alone.”  Individual-led discussions and group presentations, along with writing projects, further shed light on the Tales. Participants have access to the library and computer facilities at the University of London’s Mile End Campus.    

Dates: June 24—July 21 (4 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: Eastern Illinois University
Location: London, UK

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.