Chaucer's Approach to Gender in the Canterbury Tales

November 1995
232 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Chaucer Studies
ISBN: 9780859914819
Format: Hardback

Chaucer's Approach to Gender in the Canterbury Tales

Anne Laskaya

An original feminist approach, through a study of Chaucer's treatment of masculinity, to the Canterbury Tales
This volume presents a feminist approach to the Canterbury Tales, investigating the ways in which the tensions and contradictions found within the broad contours of medieval gender discourse write themselves into Chaucer's text. Four discourses of medieval masculinity are examined, which simultaneously reinforce and resist one another: heroic or chivalric, Christian, courtly love, and emerging humanist models.
Each chapter attempts to negotiate both contemporary assumptions of gender construction, and essentialist readings of gender common to the middle ages; throughout, the author argues that the Canterbury Tales offer a sophisticated discussion of masculinity, and that it strongly indicts some of the prevalent medieval notions of ideal masculinity while still remaining firmly homosocial and homophobic. The book concludes that on the question of gender issues, the Tales are best studied as male-authored texts containing representations and negotiations revealing much about late medieval masculinities.

Dr ANNE LASKAYA teaches in the English Department at the University of Oregon.


`Laskaya surveys the various ways in which Chaucer explores the full range of late 14th-century ideals of masculinity, and then examines how women are figured in the tales of both male and female pilgrims... provides a refreshing perspective on familiar territory, but her most interesting and innovative work is to be found in her reading of the three women who join the tale-telling competition. MEDIUM AEVUM

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