IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1631: Chaucer and Chaucerian Authority

Thursday 12 July 2012, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Brendan O'Connell, School of English, Trinity College Dublin
Paper 1631-aThe Solas and Structure of Desire in the Miller's Tale and the Knight's Tale
(Language: English)
Danielle Lynn Netzer, Pennsylvania State University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Rhetoric, Sexuality
Paper 1631-bDeflating Moral Advice in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
(Language: English)
Simone Bovair, Department of English, University of Bristol
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Philosophy, Sermons and Preaching
Paper 1631-c'Autentik werk': Challenging Literary Authority in Henryson's The Preaching of the Swallow
(Language: English)
Charlotte Steenbrugge, Independent Scholar, Sheffield
Index terms: Education, Language and Literature - Middle English

Paper -a:
Taken together, the circulations of desire and appetite in the Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale create spaces to explore the nexus between intellectual and physical pleasure. Moreover, the dialogical interplay between these tales reveals the ways that desire is transformed between two distinct generic discourses, reproducing itself via its displacement. By examining these exchanges, one can more clearly see how Chaucer is exploring the very structure of desire and reexamining that old fight between the will and the rational appetites. Thus, the idea of a linear scaffold supporting a hierarchy of desires is compromised.

Paper -b:This paper explores two moments in the Canterbury Tales where undesirable, or inappropriate moral advice regarding virtue (particularly that of patience) is given, and rejected by its recipients. In the Summoner’s Tale, Thomas, suffering from sickness and grief at the recent loss of his child, is gradually driven to anger by the friar’s hypocritical sermon on patience, having not shown any ‘symptoms’ of anger to require such a sermon in the first place. The gluttonous and greedy friar seeks a gift and Thomas delivers it, in the form of a fart. In the Knight’s Tale, Palamon, having been shot in the eye by Cupid, cries out, ‘A!’, his cousin Arcite misreads this to be a cry of frustration prompted by their imprisonment. Arcite starts his patience monologue and urges Palamon to endure what fortune has dealt them, to which Palamon’s response is a comic deflation of Arcite’s ‘veyn imagination’, stating that he cried because he has just been shot in the eye. I will consider these two moments of corporeal deflation as a comment upon the misuse of the language of moral instruction, in line with Chaucer’s conception of speech as ‘broken air’, and of moral advice which is not followed.

Paper -c:
I aim to show that Henryson was wary of accepting a dominant strand of medieval literary criticism, namely the concept of auctoritas. While Henryson had to claim for himself a position of authority similar to that of ancient, Latin authors, I shall demonstrate that he also put in place various strategies which undermine his own claim to the status of auctor and even shed doubt on the concept of literary authority generally. I prove, moreover, that Henryson adopted and adapted in The Preaching of the Swallow some of the methods which Chaucer used, providing strong proof for a transnational interest in the concept of vernacular authorship.