Title"From every shires ende":
NameNakley, Susan Marie (author), Scanlon, Larry (chair), Chism, Chritine (internal member), Miller, Jacqueline (internal member), Lavezzo, Kathy (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectEnglish, Literatures in,
Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400--Criticism and interpretation
DescriptionDespite Geoffrey Chaucer's longstanding reputation as the English nation's first writer, his relation to the problem of nationhood has just begun to receive extensive critical attention. This dissertation clarifies the nature of Chaucer's national imagination by drawing on recent developments in postcolonial critique, in particular the work of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. It argues that Chaucer's concept of nationhood relies on his engagement with internationalism. It argues further that Chaucer finds the first possibilities for the concept in vernacular language and popular access to British history. The latter characteristically involves anachronism, a tool which, paradoxically, Chaucer uses to reshape the two fundamental components of his national ideals: sovereignty and domesticity. Chaucerian nationhood predates modern nationalism, but they cannot be divorced. The dissertation compares the two argues that nationhood can be better understood by comparing historically disparate forms.
The first chapter surveys nationhood's place in Chaucer's reception history. Chapter two considers his relation to thinkers like Dante, Marsilius of Padua and Nicole Oresme, and fourteenth-century politics. Chapter three argues that by imagining England as a national homeland in the Canterbury Tales' General Prologue and frame narrative, Chaucer uses nationhood to understand why people participate in political community even when its costs outweigh its benefits. Chapter four exposes tensions between the Knight's Tale's imperial and national ambitions. Chapter five presents the Man of Law's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale as complementary facets of the Matter of Britain. In its reading of the Man of Law's Tale, English national sovereignty depends on anachronistic misreadings of Islam. It then argues that the Wife of Bath amends the Man of Law';s conception of sovereignty, rendering it a cross-class, cross-gender affair that extends expectations of love and continuity from the nuclear family to a larger national family. The dissertation concludes that Chaucer represents England the nation in complementary forms as a sovereign power, a trans-historical community of comrades, and a homeland.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 284-293).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.