A new year and a new article to go with it

The fantastic editors of The Chaucer Review do not mess around: when they say a January issue is coming out, they mean it. The new issue (53.1) came out within the first few days of the new year—I noticed it yesterday afternoon—and contains my article “‘In fourme of speche is chaunge’: Final –e in Troilus and Criseyde II.22–28.” (A PDF is available on the Publications page of this site.) Here’s the abstract:

This article posits that the fourth stanza of the proem to Book Two of Troilus and Criseyde, a passage that reflects on linguistic change, calls attention to such change by deploying the already-antiquated but still-recognized final -e. The discussion considers first how Chaucer positions language change in Troilus, including the envoy (V, 1793–98), before addressing the careful construction of II, 22–28. Chaucer thus highlights discrepancies between written and oral forms of language as well as geographic and temporal differences. A consideration of the extant manuscripts of the poem demonstrates the attention Chaucer’s early copyists paid to his deliberate use of written, but silent, final -e.

I’m very happy to see this work in print: it’s been developing for quite some time. The idea first came to me over six years ago, in the autumn of 2011, while I was the TA for Jamie Fumo’s class on Chaucer’s courtly literature. At the top of Professor Fumo’s handout on Middle English pronunciation, she included this stanza as an epigraph—a very appropriate quotation when introducing so many undergraduates to this wonderfully strange language. As we moved through vowel pronunciation and the familiar-but-tricky issue of final -e, I flipped back to this passage. Something caught my eye, something seemed off. For the rest, you’ll have to read the article.

My thanks to Susanna Fein, David Raybin, and Christopher Michael Roman at The Chaucer Review for the opportunity. And all best to everyone for 2018.

chaucerreading

(Cambridge, Corpus Christi College MS 61 frontispiece)