writing contemporary tale


The Canterbury Tales:  Revised and Contemporized

Write a contemporary tale that illustrates some aspect of our own 21st Century society.  Be sure that your tale provides a window into our world so that readers in the distant future may gain insights into what citizens in our society value and enjoy.  Like Chaucer, you may choose to write in any genre that you prefer.  *A Genre of the Tales, appears at the end of this document; it shows each of the genres used by Chaucer and shows which of his tales fall into various categories.  You may wish to read more of the Canterbury Tales to generate your own ideas for the contest.


Tale must be typed, double- spaced, 12 pt. font/Times New Roman

Tale must have a title and reflect 21st Century character traits (social class, habits, values, styles, appearances, morals, lack of morals, etc.)

Tale must descriptively reveal some aspect of 21st century culture, social classes, trends, lifestyles, professions, sports, entertainment, education, politics, religion, etc.

Tales may be set in local, state, or national regions

Tales must be between 3-5 pages in length


Pre-planning guide:

In planning your 21st Century tale, how would you rank the social order in American society?  Compare and contrast Medieval vs. Contemporary Societies’ economic/social class structures.



Make it FUN, make it REAL!

*Genre of Chaucer’s Tales 

(for use as possible models)


Genre                                     Defined                                              Example

Chivalric Romance                tale of love, adventure, knightly      Knight’s Tale

                                                Knightly conflict and pageantry      Squire’s Tale


Myth                                       creating or recreating a myth          Manciple’s Tale


Mock-Heroic                           ridicules, by imitation, chivalric       Nun’s Priest’s Tale

                                                Literature and heroic characters


Beast Fable                            Animals are given human                Nun’s Priest’s Tale

                                                qualities and are involved in           

                                                tales that teach a moral lesson


Mock-Romance                      ridicules the chivalric romance       Chaucer’s Tale #1

                                                by parody


Jokes                                       humorous incidents that ridicule    Friar’s Tale

                                                people                                                            Summoner’s Tale

                                                                                                            Canon’s Yeoman’s  T.


Fabliau                                   stories based on clever tricks          Miller’s Tale   

                                                that involve infidelity                       Skipper’s Tale

                                                                                                            Merchant’s Tale

                                                                                                            Reeve’s Tale

                                                                                                            Cook’s Fragment


Sermon                                   an oratory preaching a                     Parson’s Tale

                                                A Christian message


Exemplum                             a sermon that illustrates a               Pardoner’s Tale

                                                known moral lesson


Saint’s Legend                       tales of inspirational acts                 Second Nun’s Tale

                                                or martyrdom


Miracle of the Virgin             tales in which the Virgin Mary        Prioress’s Tale

                                                Miraculously aids a follower

                                                in time of need


Moral Tale                              tales to inspire moral conduct         Physician’s Tale

                                                in the listener                                                Cleric’s Tale


(Miltner, Robert. The Canterbury Tales. United States of America:  The Center for       Learning 31.)


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