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Medieval Matters: Chaucer, Our Contemporary: Poetry and Performance

EVT 479
Oct 19
7:30 pm
Geology Corner , 320
Status: No Registration Required

Medieval Matters is a series of public lectures co-sponsored by Stanford Continuing Studies, the Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Office for Religious Life, and the community group The Sarum Seminar. It explores the relevance of medieval history and culture to understanding the modern world.

Chaucer, Our Contemporary: Poetry and Performance

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343–1400) lies in Westminster Abbey, in Poets’ Corner, and has long been considered foundational to English national tradition. His range of writing dazzles, extending from ancient Trojan epic to bedroom farce, animal fable to feminist manifesto, dream vision to stark realism, astrology to medicine and science. His poetry comes alive when read aloud, and many barriers to understanding and enjoying Chaucer fall away when he is properly performed. Shakespeare, for one, saw great dramatic possibilities in Chaucer. Modern poets, performers, and rap artists, from British Columbia and London to Norway to Iran, are finding great creative inspiration in Chaucer. In this lecture, David Wallace presents Chaucer as a poet for our time, a brilliant original who reminds us that English, from day to day, from place to place, never ceases to change.

David Wallace, Judith Rodin Professor of English; Former Chair of the Department of English; Former President of the New Chaucer Society, University of Pennsylvania

David Wallace is the author of Europe: A Literary History, 1348–1418. He is currently writing Chaucer: A Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press. He has taught at Penn since 1996, where he has received multiple teaching awards, but he first taught Chaucer at Stanford in 1984. In 2018, he will become the president of the Medieval Academy of America. He received a PhD from St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge.
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