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Chaucer and the Subject of Bureaucracy
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-16, 20:28 authored by Mead, J
This paper takes its lead from Sheila Delany's important and influential "Slaying Python: Marriage and Misogyny in a ChaucerianText" (1996). Delany's argument offers a number of theoretical and interpretive interventions in liberal humanist readings of a particular Chaucerian text, the canonical poetic figure of Chaucer and Chaucer as biographical subject. In The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer, Derek Pearsall considers Chaucer's acceptance of the post of Comptroller of the Wool Custom and the Wool Subsidy in June 1374 and comments that Chaucer's "career shifted decisively away from the immediate environs of the royal court": the Comptroller's "job itself was something of a chore and not a usual avenue to promotion for an ambitious squire." My argument is that this fourteen-year career as a bureaucrat, coming as it does after Chaucer's earlier periods of military service (1359-60, 1369, 1370) and the years 1366-1378 during which Chaucer undertakes perhaps five diplomatic and trade missions, raises a question about the subjectivity we construct for Chaucer out of the conjunction of public writing and personal history: what might it mean to read a "bureaucratic Chaucer"? Â© EXEMPLARIA 2007.
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationUK