Chaucerian Renaissance

Geoffrey Chaucer is often called “the father of English literature”, and though that is not exactly accurate, it reflects his immense prestige in the canon of English literature.

Today, thanks to the effort of educators at all levels, Chaucer is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. His opus The Canterbury Tales is often treated to adaptations by high school and college students alike, project after project seeking to emulate and disseminate his fantastical tales for the modern sensibility.

But, beyond the mandated school projects, we also see Chaucer re-imagined in literature and film. Sometimes it is merely a cameo or a bit character like it is in Heath Ledger’s A Knight’s Tale, other times it is a full-blown re-imagining of his works themselves. Whatever the case, there is an increasing tendency to represent Chaucer, once a niche historical figure, in the popular imagination.

Join us, then, as I probe the popular unconscious and deconstruct how this great medieval author is depicted. Each and every (relatively) modern depiction of Chaucer is the area of my concern here– YouTube videos, theatrical plays, literature (Indie and otherwise), video games, music, film and more is all my concern.

(If you find something which represents Chaucer, please, send me an email or comment somewhere and let me know so I can add it to our collective understanding of Chaucer and postmodernity.)


That Postmodern Hellscape: Internet Culture & Chaucer

Pilgrim’s Prize: an online re-enactment of The Canterbury Tales by College Students.

Told in lockstep with Chaucer’s original tales, each student recreates a tale within a modern setting, updating, essentially, the Middle English original. Some tales are better than others but all display a level of intrigue and quality which is missing from many neo-Chaucerian productions. Below, is my brief thoughts on each reproduction.

  1. The General Prologue
  2. The Knight’s Tale
  3. The Miller’s Tale
  4. The Reeve’s Tale
  5. The Cook’s Tale
  6. The Man of Law’s Tale
  7. The Wife of Bath’s Tale
  8. The Friar’s Tale
  9. The Summoner’s Tale
  10. The Clerk’s Tale
  11. The Merchant’s Tale
  12. The Squire’s Tale
  13. The Franklin’s Tale
  14. The Physician’s Tale
  15. The Pardoner’s Tale
  16. The Shipman’s Tale
  17. The Prioress’s Tale
  18. The Tale of Sir Topaz
  19. The Tale of the Melibee
  20. The Monk’s Tale
  21. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
  22. The Second Nun’s Tale
  23. The Canon Yeoman’s Tale
  24. The Manciple’s Tale
  25. The Parson’s Tale and Chaucer’s Retraction
  26. Final Thoughts



New Literature & Film


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