Andrew James Johnston1
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  • 1 Freie Universität Berlin
Chaucer‘s Postcolonial Renaissance
in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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This article investigates how Chaucer‘s Knight‘s and Squire‘s tales critically engage with the Orientalist strategies buttressing contemporary Italian humanist discussions of visual art. Framed by references to crusading, the two tales enter into a dialogue focusing, in particular, on the relations between the classical, the scientific and the Oriental in trecento Italian discourses on painting and optics, discourses that are alluded to in the description of Theseus Theatre and the events that happen there. The Squire‘s Tale exhibits what one might call a strategic Orientalism designed to draw attention to the Orientalism implicit in his fathers narrative, a narrative that, for all its painstaking classicism, displays both remarkably Italianate and Orientalist features. Read in tandem, the two tales present a shrewd commentary on the exclusionary strategies inherent in the construction of new cultural identities, arguably making Chaucer the first postcolonial critic of the Renaissance.

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