Papal visit and other items of interest


Left: Papal visit swag on sale at George Washington University. Right: Screenshot of Carolin Bergvall's recordings at PennSound

Left: Papal visit swag currently on sale at George Washington University. Right: Screenshot of Caroline Bergvall’s recordings at PennSound (September 24, 2015).

As I sit in my office this morning writing this blog post, the Pope is addressing a joint session of the US Congress on the other side of town (follow the live-streaming of the speech here). After concluding this visit, the Pope will continue on a busy itinerary through Philadelphia and New York.

To mark this occasion, check out Caroline Bergvall’s Chaucerian/BBC mashup about a previous (2006) papal visit: “The Summer Tale (Deus Hic, 1).” Both the text and a voice recording can be accessed at PennSound.

(For more information on the papal visit and DC-area sites relevant for papal history and Franciscan culture, see my blog post at In The Middle.)

Other topical items of interest:

A blog posting about medievalist responses to the global refugee crisis, with a nod to Chaucer pedagogy (with a passing reference to Bergvall’s work Drift, which evocatively refracts the current refugee crisis by way of the Old English poem The Seafarer).

In The Middle is promoting a special discount for two important books on medievalism (recently published by Boydell & Brewer)!

Chaucer Biography Now: News and Reviews

Cover of Strohm Chaucer's Tale (Viking, 2014), reissued as The Poet's Tale (Profile, 2015)

Paul Strohm, Chaucer’s Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury (New York: Viking, 2014); also published in the UK as The Poet’s Tale: Chaucer and the Year that Made The Canterbury Tales (London: Profile Books, 2014).

Chaucer biography is much in the news these days! A few recent items of note:

  • Candace Barrington has just published an attentive review of Paul Strohm’s new biography of Chaucer, Chaucer’s Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury (New York: Viking, 2014). Read the review in the open-access journal The Medieval Review.
  • Jenna Mead offered her own engaging perspective on Strohm’s book in the group medieval studies blog In the Middle earlier this summer.

In the most recent issue of The London Review of Books (27 August 2015), Ardis Butterfield notes the current flurry of interest in the muck and olfactory sensorium of medieval London, and she reflects on the unflattering portrayal of Chaucer that emerges through Bruce Holsinger’s vivid fictional fiction about John Gower. [For more on the complications of voicing medieval poets and creating a “soundscapes” for narrative, read (or listen to!) this March 2014 interview between Holsinger and audiobook narrator Simon Vance in The Slate Book Review.]

Butterfield’s essay in The London Review of Books ponders some of the difficulties of writing in the genre of biography. How does a writer transform a historical archive into a life story?

  • Read Butterfield’s “Diary: Who Was Chaucer?” at the LRB website; if you can’t access the full essay there, try this link (provided by via Rachel Kennedy on twitter).

P.S. [ADDED AUGUST 29, 2015] Not quite a “news item” but relevant. Check out this new collection of essays by historians (each chapter focuses on one of Chaucer’s Canterbury pilgrims): Historians on Chaucer: The ‘General Prologue’ to The Canterbury Tales, ed. Steven Rigby, with assistance of Alastair Minnis (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Global Chaucers Roundtable at NCS 2016 in London

London_2-1371043833Global Chaucers is sponsoring another roundtable at the next New Chaucer Society Congress. Titled “Translating Global Chaucers,” the roundtable will continues the Global Chaucers conversation begun at the 2014 Congress. The focus will be on translations of Chaucerian texts into languages other than standard Present Day English. Participants include translators, scholars, and teachers outside the Anglophone inner circle (UK, US, Canada, Australia, and NZ). Their presentations consider the ways translations

  • reflect the particular linguistic, cultural, or social context in which they appeared;
  • reveal understandings of Chaucer’s texts unavailable to an Anglophone reader; and
  • take advantage of verse or prose forms (or other stylistic conventions) available in the receiving literary culture but not in English.

The five participants are

  • Stephanie Downes, University of Melbourne, Australia, “Vilains mots! Nineteenth-Century French Translations of The Canterbury Tales”
  • Marcin Ciura, Independent Translator, “In the Margins of the Polish Parlement of Foules”
  • Züleyha Çetiner-Ōktem, Ege University, “Reinventing Chaucer’s Sir Thopas from a Turkish Perspective”
  • Denise Ming-yueh Wang, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan, “When Global Chaucers Go Local: Reading Chaucer in Taiwan”
  • José Francisco Botelho, Independent Translator, “Contos da Cantuária: Chaucer in Brazil”

We’re super excited about the international panel, with its mix of translators and scholars!

Global Chaucers and Digital Humanities: new Accessus article

Mehmet Güleryüz, "The Evening Sun," 2013, from his exhibit "With One's Eyes Open” at The Empire Project (Istanbul), 7 March-27 April 2013.

Mehmet Güleryüz, “The Evening Sun,” 2013, from his exhibit “With One’s Eyes Open” at The Empire Project (Istanbul), 7 March-27 April 2013.

We’re excited to announce that our article, “Global Chaucers: Reflections on Collaboration and Digital Futures,” appears in the latest issue of Accessus.  In it, we consider what Global Chaucers can teach us about Chaucer, digital humanities, medievalism, and collaboration. A lot has happened with GlCh in less that three years, and we value getting to share what we’ve learned from the thrilling experience. Our deepest gratitude to Eve Salisbury and Georgiana Donavin, Accessus‘s editors.

The Refugee Tales Walk

DSCF2129_lonewalkerTaking a cue from Chaucer’s band of pilgrims,  participants in Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group’s Refugee Tales Walk are midway through their 9-day walk on the North Downs Way from Dover to Crawley via Canterbury. Along the way, writers, musicians and other artists will share tales inspired by the migrants and refugees: The General Prologue, The Migrant’s Tale, The Chaplain’s Tale, The Unaccompanied Minor’s Tale, The Arriver’s Tale, The Lorry Driver’s Tale, The Visitor’s Tale, The Detainee’s Tale, The Interpreter’s Tale, The Appellant’s Tale, The Counsellor’s Tale, The Dependent’s Tale, The Friend’s Tale, The Deportee’s Tale, The Lawyer’s Tale, The Refuge’s Tale, The Ex-Detainee’s Tale, and a Reprise of the Tales.

Photos and journal entries provide the rest of us an opportunity to share in the events.

Thanks to Dan Kline for alerting us to this deeply moving project.

See also, the Times Higher Education article.

Emoji Chaucer–is this the universal translation?

Partly to have fun, partly to ask a serious question about universal translation, we are passing along Sara Bickley’s emoji translation of the opening lines of Chaucer’s General Prologue. [Screenshot of the tweet is below; link to original tweet:]


Briefly noted: Interesting CFPs

Boccaccio Adaptations Mosaic[Mosaic of Boccaccio adaptations; original flyer here]

We are happy to help spread the word about a few CFPs (Calls for Proposals) of interest to the Global Chaucers community!

Call for Sessions (extended to February 15): Meeting of the BABEL Working Group (Off the Books: Making, Breaking, Binding, Burning, Leaving, Gathering), University of Toronto, October 9-11, 2015 [full CFP here]. Organizers welcome session proposals that creatively interpret the theme “Off the Books.” This might include moving beyond texts to other kinds of visual/digital media — or more broadly, what does it mean for Chaucer to be re-made, unbound, re/collected, etc.

Call for Papers (extended to February 15): The Many Forms of the Decameron: Interpretations, Translations, and Adaptations (Italian Graduate Conference), Johns Hopkins University, April 24-26, 2015 [website here]. Boccaccio in translation/adaptation, from medieval to modern (yes, that could even include Chaucer).

Call for Papers (due April 15): Intentional Congress of the New Chaucer Society, London, July 10-15, 2016 [full list of sessions here]. In addition to Session 65 on “Translating Global Chaucers” (organized by Candace Barrington), there are many other panels of interest to the Global Chaucers community: sessions on pedagogy, translation, history of the English language, and digital cultures.