Closing the Book on Chaucer: Medieval Theories of Ending and the Ends of Chaucerian Narrative


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation analyzes Chaucer’s narrative endings as the key battleground in the poet’s complex reception history, whether in later medieval England, in medieval and early modern Scotland, or the present day. Combining narratological and historicist perspectives, it first situates Chaucer’s endings in what we can reconstruct of medieval narrative theory, and then examines how and why so many later authors rewrite or otherwise intervene in Chaucer’s endings. In various regions and times, to ‘close the book’ on Chaucer has constituted a political or nationalistic act as well as a poetic or aesthetic one. The project also makes use of digital tools like searchable text corpora to reveal how Chaucer’s endings continue to reappear in new contexts far beyond the Middle Ages.