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The face is a vital site of embodied emotional display. By examining descriptions of facial pallor in a range of Chaucer’s works, Downes explores the poet’s representation of the face as an affective text, which launches an interpretative challenge to both the medieval and the modern reader of fiction, as well as deepening our understanding of cultural expressions of feeling in the pre-modern era.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries
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Jeffrey Jerome Cohen deftly pairs ‘heavy atmosphere’ – ideas about weather and mood – in Chaucer’s works, while at the same time unsettling received ideas about a unidimensional human and elemental world. In Cohen’s exploration of them, the ‘weighty’ atmosphere of the Reeve’s Tale and the fate of Arcite in the Knight’s Tale contrast sharply with Troilus’s celestial transcendence.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries

Some Middle English narratives juxtapose representations of hunting and histories of aristocratic loss. The Book of the Duchess and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight redirect anxieties about the contingency and precariousness of lordly advantage in a world that sometimes seems to be ruled by Fortune. Though produced in different formal traditions and different circumstances, the two poems display comparable features of a broader sense of ‘seigneurial poetics’ in late medieval texts.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries

Paul Strohm, both a biographer of Chaucer and a Chaucerian literary critic, meditates on what Chaucer might come to mean for those engaged with his life and poetic works. In a personal reflection on writing about this medieval clerk and poet, Strohm explores the identification or transference that can occur during an intense study of an author, generating new insights into how our emotional investments are implicated in our ‘relationship’ with an author.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries

Thomas A. Prendergast re-examines the fifteenth-century ‘Beryn’ manuscript, one of numerous continuations of and additions to the Canterbury Tales. Prendergast’s foremost concern is to identify the logic guiding the Beryn-scribe’s addition of this text to the Tales. He argues that the scribe was compelled by an irresistible desire to complete the text of the Canterbury Tales, thus attributing agency to the text itself.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries
Transhistorical empathy and the Chaucerian face

From the earliest manuscript images through to cinematic depictions, Chaucer’s ‘persone’, that is his face and body, has been a key focus in the pursuit of transhistorical intimacy with the author. Chaucer’s physical self has been portrayed repeatedly across subsequent centuries in an array of media. Drawing upon the hermeneutic concept of Einfühlung (‘feeling into’) to examine the long ‘empathetic afterlife’ enjoyed by Chaucer’s ‘persone’, D’Arcens explores what Chaucer’s face and body have come to mean to post-medieval audiences; she traces how these differences intersect with the constantly changing nature of Chaucer’s legacy, especially as he and his work have been deemed to reflect national literary and comic traditions.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries

It is usually assumed that the maidens in Chaucer’s Sir Thopas who ‘mourn’ for him ‘when hem were bet to slepe’ are a parodic misunderstanding of the habit of romance knights of mourning for their ladies. This chapter argues that the maiden in love who passes sleepless nights lamenting is characteristic of a significant proportion of the metrical romances that Chaucer is imitating; it is the number of the maidens, the moralistic attitude to their sleep and the suppression of their agency that constitute the joke.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries
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Cognition as recognition

James Simpson’s central hermeneutic perception for knowledge in the Humanities is that cognition is re-cognition. Before we can know, we must already have known. He examines this paradox with reference to literary examples of facial recognition from, in particular, Chaucer and his reception in the early modern period. Linking literary face to textual face – the whole text as a kind of face – he applies the lessons learnt from facial recognition to textual recognition; and answers some possible objections to the paradox of knowing being dependent on having already known.

in Contemporary Chaucer across the centuries
An archaeological perspective on the use of recipe books

This chapter addresses some of the ways in which written sources, specifically recipe books, and, within them, culinary recipes and associated writings can be used by archaeologists. By the early eighteenth century, printed recipes started making use of China cups for serving both foods and medicines, and by the mid-century they started appearing as measuring tools or even, along with saucers, as cooking vessels. Recipe books can be useful aids in considering the spatial set-up of kitchens. Many standing examples of kitchens and food-preparation spaces survive from the period under study. Recipe books also afford insights into the mentalities of culinary preparation. The ordering of ingredients and intellectual hierarchy through which raw ingredients were processed into finished dishes should not be assumed to be the same as our post-'green revolution' ways of ordering knowledge about foodstuffs.

in Reading and writing recipe books, 1550–1800
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Memory and history in African literatures

This book provides a combination of critical argument about those central debates within African literary studies, alongside a focus on individual texts and writers that are central to the study of African literatures. It investigates how certain versions of the past get to be remembered, which memories are privileged and what the loci are for memory within the context of African literatures. The book establishes the main debates about African writing in relation to modernism and traditionalism, history and the present, trauma and the ethics of historical representation, and theories of memory as a challenge to the discourses of historiography and ethnography. In these respects, the book first focuses upon memory as a discourse in African writing, emerging as a product of discourse in the ways it operates in private and public life. It then explores how memory is socially and historically constituted within differing African contexts. The book also interrogates the invocation of memory within a number of other discourses (political, historical, ethical, autobiographical, gender, ethnic), enquiring how memory is called upon to legitimate identity, construct or reconstruct it. It further explores how memory is narratively organized, and the ways in which narrative is related to other cultural forms of remembering.