Kamila Kaminska-Palarczyk Humanities and Social Science
Reading Chaucer's Virtuous Women in Late Medieval and Early Modern England
My research examines the tensions between Geoffrey Chaucers canon and modern scholarships dismissive treatment of the Legend of Good Women (the LGW). My research will uncover the historical and cultural forces causing this minor poem to be overshadowed by the infamous Canterbury Tales, a foundational text in every undergraduate English department. Through a codicological approach (study of the book as literary artifact), I will revisit the original early modern print anthologies that first consolidated Chaucers literary authority in the emergence of print culture. The primary anthologies of Thynne, Speght, and Stowe contextualize how these editors posthumously canonized Chaucer to consolidate his literary authority through gender. The LGW is central to demonstrating how different editors framed this poem in connection to their own representations of the Chaucerian tradition, which implicitly informed a gendered readership. Ultimately, my research will combine attention to Chaucers early print editions and the 15th-century readership, while also engaging with critical feminist scholarship that analyzes constructions of the virtuous woman in the LGW. By foregrounding the previous elision of the LGW in literary history, my research will be vital to reassessing the challenge many scholars face in interpreting and reading Chaucers works.