Chaucer, Ellesmere Manuscript. Image from Wikimedia Commons
My most recent book project, entitled Chaucer and Religious Controversies from the Middle Ages to the Augustan Age, adopts the comparative, boundary crossing approach that generally characterizes my research. In this project, however, I shift my attention from texts and figures that are, by and large, relatively unknown to one of the most canonical of literary figures, Geoffrey Chaucer. The idea that Chaucer is an international writer raises no eyebrows. Scholars have long elucidated vital connections between Chaucer’s work and that of French and Italian writers including Machaut and Boccaccio. Similarly, a claim that Chaucer’s writings participate in English confessional controversies in his own day and afterward provokes no surprise. Indeed, Chaucer’s ecclesiastical satires and critiques in the Canterbury Tales were so well known that Protestant reformers adopted him as one of their own after Henry VIII broke with Rome. Relatively little work has been done, however, considering Chaucer’s Continental interests and influences as they inform his engagement with religious cultures and his production of religious writings. Likewise, while the early modern “Protestant Chaucer” is a familiar figure, Protestant claims to the Chaucerian legacy were not uncontested, though the early modern “Catholic Chaucer” has not received much attention. Writing my two previous books convinced me of the vital importance both of adopting an international perspective in studying the religious and textual cultures of England and of rethinking conventional demarcations of historical periods. Thus, this book seeks to fill gaps in Chaucer scholarship by situating Chaucer and the Chaucerian tradition in an international textual environment of religious controversy spanning four centuries.