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Chaucer and Religion


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How do critics, religious scholars and historians in the early twenty-first century view Chaucer's relationship to religion? And how can he be taught and studied in an increasingly secular and multi-cultural environment? The essays here, on [the Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, lyrics and dream poems, aim to provide an orientation on the study of the the religions, the religious traditions and the religious controversies of his era - and to offer new perspectives upon them. Using a variety of theoretical, critical and historical approaches, they deal with topics that include Chaucer in relation to lollardy, devotion to the saint and the Virgin Mary, Judaism and Islam, and the Bible; attitudes towards sex, marriage and love; ethics, both Christian and secular; ideas on death and the Judgement; Chaucer's handling of religious genres such as hagiography and miracles, as well as other literary traditions - romance, ballade, dream poetry, fablliaux and the middle ages' classical inheritance - which pose challenges to religious world views. These are complemented by discussion of a range of issues related to teaching Chaucer in Britain and America today, drawn from practical experience.

Contributors: Anthony Bale, Alcuin Blamires, Laurel Broughton, Helen Cooper, Graham D. Caie, Roger Dalrymple, Dee Dyas, D. Thomas Hanks Jr., Stephen Knight, Carl Phelpstead, Helen Phillips, David Raybin, Sherry Reames, Jill Rudd.


[S]ubstantial, coherent, and serious [...] it is to be praised as an excellent volume, a thorough, sympathetic, and absorbing account of its subject. It really should be in the library of every institution where the study of Chaucer is taken seriously. MEDIAEVISTIK

[T]he collection [is] interesting and engaging at every turn, with its thorough and detailed discussion of a broad range of religious topics [...] a thought-provoking book, that will serve as an excellent sourcebook and a starting point for a renewed reading of Chaucer's works. REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES

A welcome new set of assessments of the place of religion within Chaucer's writings. [...] Wide-ranging in their address of late medieval religious practices and institutions and broadly attentive to Chaucer's texts, these essays will be a go-to source for graduate students or for teachers looking to brush up on the literature. MEDIEVAL REVIEW

Everyone of these essays contains trenchant analysis of Chaucer's works that is accessible, informative and suggestive. [...] Students will learn from this collection, most importantly because they will learn to make up their own minds about informed treatment of religion in the works of a poet whose opinion is famously difficult to determine. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY


First Published: 16 Sep 2010
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843842293
Pages: 236
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction: Chaucer and Religion
  • 2  Love, Marriage, Sex, Gender
  • 3  Chaucer and the Bible
  • 4  Chaucer and Lollardy
  • 5  "Toward the Fen": Church and Churl in Chaucer's Fabliaux
  • 6  'A maner Latyn corrupt': Chaucer and the Absent Religions
  • 7  The Matter of Chaucer: Chaucer and the Boundaries of Romance
  • 8  Mary, Sanctity and Prayers to Saints: Chaucer and Late-Medieval Piety
  • 9  "Th'ende is every tales strengthe": Contextualising Chaucerian Perspectives on Death and Judgement
  • 10  Chaucer and the Saints: Miracles and Voices of Faith
  • 11  Chaucer and the Communities of Pilgrimage
  • 12  Classicising Christianity in Chaucer's Dream Poems: the Book of the Duchess, Book of Fame, and Parliament of Fowls
  • 13  Morality in the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's Lyrics and the Legend of Good Women
  • 14  'To demen by interrogaciouns': Accessing the Christian Context of the Canterbury Tales with Enquiry/Based Learning
  • 15  'Gladly wolde [they] lerne [?]': U.S. Students and the Chaucer Class
  • 16  Teaching Teachers: Chaucer, Ethics, and Romance
  • 17  Reflections on Teaching Chaucer and Religion: The Nun's Priest's Tale and the Man of Law's Tale