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Chaucer’s Queer Nation

2002
Author:

Glenn Burger

Chaucer’s Queer Nation

Draws parallels between questions of identity in Chaucer’s time and our own.

Bringing the concerns of queer theory and postcolonial studies to bear on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this ambitious book compels a rethinking not only of this most canonical of works, but also of questions of sexuality and gender in pre- and postmodern contexts, of issues of modernity and nation in historiography, and even of the enterprise of historiography itself.

Medieval Cultures Series, volume 34

With great fluency and clarity, Glenn Burger argues that under the pressure of producing a poetic vision for a new vernacular audience Chaucer reimagines the relation between the body and the community, offering a compelling exploration of desire in all its multiplicity and perversity.

Larry Scanlon, author of Narrative, Authority, and Power: The Medieval Exemplum and the Chaucerian Tradition

Bringing the concerns of queer theory and postcolonial studies to bear on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this ambitious book compels a rethinking not only of this most canonical of works, but also of questions of sexuality and gender in pre- and postmodern contexts, of issues of modernity and nation in historiography, and even of the enterprise of historiography itself. Glenn Burger shows us Chaucer uneasily situated between the medieval and the modern, his work representing new forms of sexual and communal identity but also enacting the anxieties provoked by such departures from the past.

Burger argues that, under the pressure of producing a poetic vision for a new vernacular English audience in the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer reimagines late medieval relations between the body and the community. In close readings that are at once original, provocative, and convincing, Chaucer’s Queer Nation helps readers to see the author and audience constructed with and by the Tales as subjects-in-process caught up in a conflicted moment of "becoming." In turn, this historicization unsettles present-day assumptions about identity with the realization that social organizations of the body can be done differently.


Chaucer’s Queer Nation

Glenn Burger is associate professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Chaucer’s Queer Nation

With great fluency and clarity, Glenn Burger argues that under the pressure of producing a poetic vision for a new vernacular audience Chaucer reimagines the relation between the body and the community, offering a compelling exploration of desire in all its multiplicity and perversity.

Larry Scanlon, author of Narrative, Authority, and Power: The Medieval Exemplum and the Chaucerian Tradition

Glenn Burger’s wonderful Chaucer’s Queer Nation pushes at the very boundaries of queer as an analytic category. It is impossible to do justice to the richness and density of Burger’s arguments in a short review. This is a compellingly perverse project, a study that catches its own readers in a series of proliferating moments of “becoming.”

Journal of English and Germanic Philology

This book is at the forefront of a new wave of queer medieval literary studies.

Medium Aevum

Chaucer’s Queer Nation is a key intervention in contemporary Chaucer criticism.

Medium Aevum