• "Rowned She a Pistel": National Institutions and Identities According to Chaucer's Wife of Bath

    Author(s):
    Susan M. Nakley (see profile)
    Date:
    2015
    Group(s):
    CLCS Arthurian, CLCS Medieval, LLC Chaucer, LLC Middle English
    Subject(s):
    Sovereignty, National identity, Class, Gender, Chaucer, Magic, Medieval romance
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    anachronism, Vernacular, Arthurian
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6V698B9H
    Abstract:
    This article analyzes the politics of anachronism in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale. It argues that the Wife of Bath counters the Man of Law’s descending model of sovereignty and regulation of feminine agency with a powerful heroine who wields ascending sovereignty. The Old Wife lives in her Arthurian present and its English future simultaneously by engaging in fairy magic and translating Dante’s fourteenth-century wisdom into English to extend expectations of love, continuity, and solidarity beyond the biological family, the nuclear nation, to the English nation, a political and cultural family. The moral of her story is that national sovereignty depends on intermediate institutions like the household and gossip as well as upon the common English folk who participate in them. Here, nations like marriages presuppose their own perpetual endurance yet require periodic renegotiation of sovereignty to continue as legitimate hierarchies.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    8 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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