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Philosophical Chaucer: Love, Sex, and Agency in the Canterbury Tales (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature) [Paperback]

Mark Miller

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29 Jan 2009 Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature (Book 55)
Mark Miller's innovative study argues that Chaucer's Canterbury Tales represent an extended mediation on agency, autonomy and practical reason. This philosophical aspect of Chaucer's interests can help us understand what is both sophisticated and disturbing about his explorations of love, sex and gender. Partly through fresh readings of the Consolation of Philosophy and the Romance of the Rose, Miller charts Chaucer's position in relation to the association in the Christian West between problems of autonomy and problems of sexuality and reconstructs how medieval philosophers and literary writers approached psychological phenomena often thought of as distinctively modern. The literary experiments of the Canterbury Tales represent a distinctive philosophical achievement that remains vital to our own attempts to understand agency, desire and their histories.

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"...Philosophical Chaucer is a challenging and worthwhile book. Miller achieves a novel engagement with the philosophical content of Chaucer's later work, and he demonstrates the rich rewards of thinking through the 'moral seriousness' of that corpus anew."
-Thomas Joseph O'Donnell, UCLA

"Miller is well qualified to place into dialogue philosophical and theoretical approaches that usually remain sheltered from one another in current literary scholarship. On the one hand, he is well-informed about the best theoretically inflected medieval scholarship, especially queer theory and psychoanalysis; on the other hand, he is equally conversant with the work of contemporary analytical philosophers...It is Miller's refreshing engagement with usually hostile intellectual traditions and his lack of dogmatism that make his book so rewarding....The book is likely to exert a powerful influence on future work."
R. James Goldstein, Auburn University, Southern Humanities Review

Book Description

Mark Miller's innovative study argues that Chaucer's Canterbury Tales represent an extended mediation on agency, autonomy and practical reason. This philosophical aspect of Chaucer's interests can help us understand what is both sophisticated and disturbing about his explorations of love, sex and gender.

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