Chaucer and Costume

July 2000
8 colour, 10 black and white, 7 line illustrations
310 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Chaucer Studies
ISBN: 9780859915779
Format: Hardback

Chaucer and Costume

The Secular Pilgrims in the General Prologue

Laura F. Hodges

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Literary analysis of the meanings inherent in the costumes of Chaucer's secular pilgrims, and his methods of characterisation through costume.
Clothing and accessories in the middle ages functioned socially as status symbols, counted economically as portable wealth, and signified metaphorically the wearer's spiritual condition. Chaucer's costume descriptions suggest all of these connotations and more. This book presents the first sustained literary analysis of the meanings inherent in the costumes of Chaucer's secular pilgrims, illuminating the extent of their (non)conformity in their dress to fourteenth-century occupational, socio-political, and religious norms. The author discusses the significance of individual fabrics, dyes, accessories, garments, and assembled costumes, and explains technical details and specialist vocabularies for cloth-making, clothing, accessories and armor, drawing on a wealth of contemporary evidence including wills, household inventories, wardrobe accounts, manuscript illuminations and church decoration.

LAURA F. HODGES has a doctorate from Rice University in medieval literature and an undergraduate degree in clothing and textiles from Auburn University; she has taught English literature for many years. As an independent scholar, she specialises in the semiotics of textiles and costume in literature.


Provide[s] modern readers with the contextual information needed for an understanding of the Canterbury Tales... a detailed discussion of the meaning and significance of the terms used to describe the clothing of Chaucer's secular pilgrims. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Good to encounter a book that explores the subject widely and in detail... as a quarry of evidence, it is certainly rich and rewarding. HISTORY

Synthesizes a wealth of material on dress... Evidence is presented from legal, funerary artistic and other literary sources; the main focus is on costume history and social practice... Scholars from many disciplines will welcome the suggestiveness and range of this substantial study. TEXTILE HISTORY

This informative book is likely to prove indispensable for Chaucerians and other scholars with an interest in medieval characterisation and clothing. ARTHURIANA

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