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The New Middle Ages

Chaucer's Feminine Subjects

Figures of Desire in The Canterbury Tales

Authors: Pitcher, J.

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About this book

This study shows how contemporary theory can serve to clarify structures of identity and economies of desire in medieval texts. Bringing the resources of psychoanalytic and poststructuralist theory to bear on Chaucer's tales about women, this book addresses those registers of the Canterbury project that remain major concerns for recent feminist theory: the specificity of feminine desire, the cultural articulation of gender, the logic of sacrifice as a cultural ideal, the structure of misogyny and domestic violence. This book maps out the ways in which Chaucer's rhetoric is not merely an element of style or an instrument of persuasion but the very matrix for the representation of de-centered subjectivity.

About the authors

John A. Pitcher teaches medieval literature and music history at the University of the Fraser Valley, Canada, where he currently serves as Head of the Department of English.

Reviews

'Chaucer's Feminine Subjects reanimates feminist criticism of Chaucer by scrutinizing the poet's abiding interest, even obsession, with the feminine figures in his poetry. Reading sensitively but unapologetically with a post-Freudian 'psychoanalytic optics,' Pitcher demonstrates the historical and political stakes of gender and gendered desire in some of the major narratives of The Canterbury Tales. His readings prompt us to appreciate Chaucer's attention to femininity and difference, psychology, and knowledge, as well as the shifting frontier of modernity. Recasting psychoanalysis as 'discourse of particularity,' he attends the historical terms by which Chaucer resists the totalizing claims of gender and exposes the binary gender system as an institutionalized fiction. For those of us wondering what has become of specifically feminist and gender studies of Chaucer in light of more recent attention to different forms of cultural alterity and otherness this is a welcome book indeed.' Elizabeth Scala, author of Absent Narratives, Manuscript Textuality, and Literary Structure in Late Medieval England

'With his focus as much on psychoanalysis as on medieval poetry, Pitcher gives language its full due as the rhetorical stuff of the 'talking cure.' Here textual and psychic lives converge in the descriptions, sources, glosses, equivocations, and authorial nods that together constitute both Chaucer's poetry and his female subjects.' Valerie Allen, professor of English, John Jay College


Table of contents (6 chapters)

  • Introduction: Chaucer’s Feminine Subjects: Feminism, Deconstruction, Psychoanalysis

    Pitcher, John A.

    Pages 1-23

  • Figures of Desire in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale

    Pitcher, John A.

    Pages 25-57

  • The Rhetoric of Desire in The Franklin’s Tale

    Pitcher, John A.

    Pages 59-80

  • The Martyr’s Purpose: The Rhetoric of Disavowal in The Clerk’s Tale

    Pitcher, John A.

    Pages 81-107

  • Chaucer’s Wolf: Exemplary Violence in The Physician’s Tale

    Pitcher, John A.

    Pages 109-129

Buy this book

eBook $69.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-137-08972-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $100.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-4039-7322-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $95.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-349-53447-0
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Chaucer's Feminine Subjects
Book Subtitle
Figures of Desire in The Canterbury Tales
Authors
Series Title
The New Middle Ages
Copyright
2012
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc.
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-08972-4
DOI
10.1057/9781137089724
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4039-7322-1
Softcover ISBN
978-1-349-53447-0
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 200
Topics