Patience Agbabi’s remixed Chaucer

by Candace Barrington

BusTelling Tales, Patience Agbabi’s re-conception of the Canterbury pilgrimage aboard a bus, receives a saucy notice this week on the Times Literary Supplement‘s back page (28 March 2014). Calling her remix “an energetic compendium of familiar stories translated into the contemporary idiom of street slang and slam poetry,” the note closes with this with this interesting desiderata: “Now that Mr. Chaucer has his own blog (just try Googling it), we impatiently await his verdict.”  LeVostreGC, it sounds as though the TLS wants to hear from you!

Call for Papers: TRANS-MEDIEVALISMS (due April 1): BABEL in UC Santa Barbara, 16-18 October 2014

by Jonathan Hsy

Logo for BABEL 2014
Logo for BABEL 2014
[all images from Joni Sternbach, Surfland]
Here’s an upcoming event of interest to medievalists and non-medievalists alike: the 3rd Biennial Meeting of BABEL Working Group at UC Santa Barbara (16-18 October 2014). BABEL members include academics as well as poets, creative writers, scientists, philosophers, and others — and BABEL conferences are well-known for featuring a wide range of presentation styles and formats.


Candace and I are still accepting proposals for TRANS-MEDIEVALISMS!
The deadline is APRIL 1.

Trans-Medievalisms (Day 3)

Sponsor: Global Chaucers

Co-Organizers: Jonathan Hsy (George Washington University) + Candace Barrington (Central Connecticut State University)

Send brief proposals to < jhsy at gwu dot edu > or < BarringtonC at mail dot ccsu dot edu >

What happens to the Western Middle Ages when it crosses into diverse, concurrent times, languages, and cultures? How does “medievalism” take shape in multiple spaces across the planet—including cultural habitats where the Western Middle Ages are no longer the “‘zero point’ of orientation” (to reroute a phrase from Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology)? What cultural work do “the Middle Ages” perform as they infuse modern-day modes of global media and cultural production—textual, visual, musical, performative, cinematic? Our session is inspirited by our work on the “Global Chaucers” project, a utopian scholarly endeavor that seeks to gather, back-translate, and analyze all non-English translations and adaptations of Chaucer’s work. Our scheming with scholars around the world has so far revealed Chaucerian adaptations in places as far-flung and interconnected as Latin America (Bolivia), East Asia (China, Japan, Korea), Europe (Denmark, Flanders, Spain, Hungary), the Middle East (Israel, Iran), and Africa (Nigeria), as well as works in invented languages (Esperanto).

For this session we aim to gather together 5-10 presenters and/or performers. This session may include a few invited participants working on Chaucerian adaptation in non-English contexts (possibly with a focus on cultures from the Pacific Rim). We would like to invite additional proposals from people working on any aspect of medieval appropriation in “global” contemporary culture (however conceived). How might plurilingual, transoceanic, and intercultural orientations provoke new modes of engaging with the past? How can we create a dynamic, multi-site community of cross-temporal scholars and enthusiasts, a fluid collective that thrives across disciplines and borders? We welcome non-medievalists, amateurs, and enthusiasts, including creative work by poets, playwrights, musicians, and/or interpretive dancers. We highly encourage collaborative submissions.

Chaucer: Modern Echoes – Patience Agbabi and Lavinia Greenlaw, 10 April 2014

by Jonathan Hsy

Patience-Agbabi-Southwark-CathedralHere’s an exciting event for members of the Global Chaucers community who are in the London area!

Gail Ashton is the editor (with Daniel Kline) of Medieval Afterives in Popular Culture (Palgrave, 2012), with further work on medievalism to appear in the near future (more on this soon!). She has just informed us of this very exciting event called Chaucer: Modern Echoes to be held on 10 April 2014, 7PM at Southwark Cathedral. Tickets cost £10 and can be purchased online; visit the event website to purchase tickets and for more details.

This event features readings of Chaucer’s work alongside presentations by two neo-Chaucerian superstars:

Patience Agbabi, poet and author of Telling Tales (Cannongate, April 2014), a mixed-form, multi-voiced verse retelling of The Canterbury Tales. [See this earlier blog posting about her work!]

Lavinia Greenlaw, poet and author of A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde (Faber & Faber, 2014), a retelling of Chaucer’s classic.

We hope to have some more about this event on this blog after it happens! Stay tuned.

Review of Chaucer in Denmark at Medievally Speaking

by Candace Barrington

DenmarkAn early contributor to the Global Chaucers blog, Ebbe Klitgård, published his one-of-a-kind study, Chaucer in Denmark,  in 2013.  I had the opportunity to review it for Medievally SpeakingWithout reprinting the entire review, I draw your attention to my final admonition:

With the commendable precedent for the study of Chaucer’s non-Anglophone reception now in place, Chaucerians and medievalists should encourage similar studies by our colleagues in predominately non-Anglophone universities and cultures.  Such work enriches the study of Chaucer in important ways, yet its survival is not necessarily ensured.  Because we know first-hand the difficulties of maintaining medievalist lines in English departments where we serve an English-speaking student population, we should be sympathetic to the even more precarious situations of Chaucerians housed in foreign-language departments. By attending to what they can tell us, ordering their books for our campus libraries, and by incorporating their research and translations into our own studies, we can support their important work and their careers.  We have just begun to listen to them; it would be shameful to lose their voices now.

Ebbe will be at the NCS Congress in Reykjavik this summer and one of the panelists on the Global Chaucers Roundtable, where his topic will be “Chaucer in Denmark since 1945: A Discussion of Some Adaptations and Translations, with a Focus on Illustrations”

The Miller’s Tale: ‘Wahala Dey O!’

by Candace Barrington


We have great news for Chaucerians in Reykjavik this summer for the New Chaucer Society Congress! We’ve learned that Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo will be staging her adaptation of The Miller’s Tale to coincide with the conference in July.  Written in both Nigerian Pidgin and English, The Miller’s Tale: ‘Wahala Dey O’ had its premier at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and received a four-star rating and glowing reviews

Ufuoma’s adaptation draws on her background: born in Nigeria and raised in Britain, she is a former student of Sif Rikardsdottir (the Icelandic Chaucerian heading the conference’s local organizing committee); she took Sif’s “Chaucer and the North” course.  She wrote in the play in 2006 while studying for her Masters in English.  Based on the snippets of the play that I’ve viewed on YouTube, I wasn’t surprised to learn she had previously studied Philosophy and History of Religion at King’s College, London University and later studied at the College of Law.  That legal trajectory changed when she moved to Iceland with her husband in 2004 and began graduate study in English.  And even that journey has taken a side trip.

She explained it to me this way:

I discovered play writing and feel very passionate that this is a sound way to get people who would otherwise not care for Chaucer right into the heart of Chaucer’s work. The Edinburgh Fringe proved this right.  As the play attracted all and sundry from curious Chaucerians, English Professors, bored students, wanderers, homesick Nigerian/English expatriates and colonialists, and those in search of a good time…

Chaucerians at the Reykjavik conference will get a chance to meet Ufuoma and to see her play.  We will keep you posted on the performance schedule and how to purchase tickets.