Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Marisa Libbon

Abstract/Artist's Statement

In this project, I explore both the textual and material histories of Chaucer's *Troilus & Criseyde* in order to understand medieval book production and the transmission of text before print. Grounded in the literary as well as the paleographical, the project will examine how Chaucer's narrative of transmission owes to a model of book production which involves scribes (their errors and choices), commissioners, illuminators, and authors. Through a study of manuscripts as physical objects, I attempt to illustrate how the materiality of texts ultimately inform their narratives.

I argue that *Troilus & Criseyde* is a text about readers and writers. In it, Chaucer examines the complex interplay between consumers and producers of text. His depiction of textual production, in turn, gives us insight on how he regarded that process. By leveraging this narrative preoccupation with transmission with the historical/biographical information about Chaucer and his scribes, I construct a map of the reader-writer dynamic within the text. I suggest that Pandarus is in many ways an intra-textual surrogate for Chaucer himself, assuming an editorial and even authorial role in the production of text. The titular Troilus embodies the troubles of transmission (being himself constructed from a series of misreadings), while Criseyde assumes the role of the reader--one who understands herself and her circumstances by interacting with text. The relationships between these characters then reflects Chaucer's own literary world in the 14th century, in which texts are mutable and fluid. This is ultimately evidenced in the paleographical material which survives to us.

The stakes of this project lie in the mutability of text, and in our ideas of authorship. How do we construct a capital-'t' Text given so much variance and fluctuation in its material history? How do we determine authorship when scribes have as much creative freedom as authors?

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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