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February 9th 2022: Cristina Maria Cervone (University of Memphis)
‘A Boethian Reading of the Miller’s Tale’

The Knight’s Tale opens space for readers to imagine, genuinely, the experience of a pagan seeking to understand whether or not there is order to the universe and what or whose agency governs actions. My paper examines Chaucer’s extension of this line of inquiry into the Miller’s Tale, taking into account references to biblical plays and related Christological oaths and allusions; the concepts of “Goddes pryvetee,” “purveiaunce,” and “foyson”; and present-day theorizing about the materiality of bodies and metaphor. In a tale centered on naked body parts and transgressions, what work do the allusions to biblical plays do? What are we to make of a constellation of oaths and other Christian references, most notably, Nicholas’ code-switching, Latinate exclamation (“By Goddes corpus, this goth faire and weel!”), voiced the moment after Alison has tricked Absolon into, quite literally, kissing her ass? In the Boethian universe evoked by the Knight’s Tale, nothing can stand outside the bounds of God’s providence, even this. My paper will consider what such moments and language might mean for how we think about the Miller’s Tale and how it is situated within the universe of The Canterbury Tales. This argument is part of a larger project on the Vernacular Poetics of Metaphor, a follow-on to my first book, Poetics of the Incarnation. To ground my Miller’s Tale experiment, I will offer a brief sketch of Vernacular Poetics as well.

This seminar will be hosted online

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