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Speakers:

Emily Clarke (University of Cambridge)  
Bede in the geteld-gehliwung: Byrhtferth of Ramsey on the Tabernacle and the Reckoning of Time  
  
Jessica Honey (University of East Anglia)  
“I sholde er this han fallen doun for sleep”: the function of dullness in Boccaccio's De casibus virorum illustrium and Chaucer's Monk's Tale  
  

Abstracts:

Emily Clarke:  
In a striking passage of the Enchiridion, a manual on the calculation of time composed in c. 1011, Byrhtferth of Ramsey asks his students to imagine the Venerable Bede resting on cushions in Moyses geteldgehliwung (‘Moses’s tabernacle’) and unveiling to them the wonders of Creation. This paper considers how Byrhtferth constructed Bede as an exemplary pedagogue living eternally in the sacred space of the Old Testament tabernacle, with his computistical teachings at the very heart of medieval faith. In turn, it posits an implicit relationship between the physical space of a tabernacle and the structure of Byrhtferth’s cosmology, as illustrated in his famous ‘Diagram of the Physical and Physiological Fours’. For Byrhtferth, the image of the tabernacle at once represented the correct Bedan interpretation of the cosmos, and the promise of salvation through the recognition of God’s eternal presence in time and space.   
 
Jessica Honey: 
The Monk’s Tale has long proven an enigma to Chaucerian scholars. The formulaic nature of the Tale’s narratives and its interruption by the Knight and the Host have led many to deem the Tale dull. My paper will argue that the Monk’s Tale’s dullness, and the responses of the pilgrim audience to the Tale, arise from its contested relationship to Boccaccio’s encyclopaedic history, De casibus virorum illustrium [The Falls of Illustrious Men]. Boccaccio’s approach in De casibus is one of copiousness and persistence. The immoral princes that Boccaccio seeks to reach with his tragic narratives require abundant examples in order to wake them up to the instability of their position. My paper will examine Chaucer’s experimentation with Boccaccio’s copiousness and with his ideas relating to style and audience. Relating to this, my paper will compare the significant role of sleep in the Monk’s Tale and De casibus. Finally, I will consider the manuscript culture of De casibus and situate Chaucer’s reception of it within the network of Boccaccio’s early readers.



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