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From every shires ende Susan Marie Nakley

From every shires ende

Susan Marie Nakley

Published
ISBN : 9781109067149
ebook
302 pages
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 About the Book 

Despite Geoffrey Chaucers longstanding reputation as the English nations first writer, his relation to the problem of nationhood has just begun to receive extensive critical attention. This dissertation clarifies the nature of Chaucers nationalMoreDespite Geoffrey Chaucers longstanding reputation as the English nations first writer, his relation to the problem of nationhood has just begun to receive extensive critical attention. This dissertation clarifies the nature of Chaucers national imagination by drawing on recent developments in postcolonial critique, in particular the work of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. It argues that Chaucers 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 argues that nationhood can be better understood by comparing historically disparate forms.-The first chapter surveys nationhoods place in Chaucers 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 Knights Tales imperial and national ambitions. Chapter five presents the Man of Laws Tale and the Wife of Baths Prologue and Tale as complementary facets of the Matter of Britain. In its reading of the Man of Laws Tale, English national sovereignty depends on anachronistic misreadings of Islam. Chapter five then argues that the Wife of Bath amends the Man of Laws 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.