Rebecca McNamara Talk: "Love and the Emotional Language of the Law in Chaucer's Poetry"


Friday, November 18, 2016


5:00 pm


Sankey Room
How can the history of emotions shed light on the ways in which Middle English literature engaged with the language of the law? This paper considers the ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer used technical legal register in his poetry for marked effect?especially, and most surprisingly, an enhanced emotional effect. Methodologies in the history of emotions are utilized to identify the emotional resonances of legal language and to show how this language operates emotionally within some of Chaucer?s short poems, including the Complaint Unto Pity and Anelida and Arcite.
This study stems from a larger project on the history of emotions related to the suicidal impulse in late medieval English literature and culture. Set within the context of legal and cultural iterations of emotions related to suicide, that project explores the ways in which the suicidal impulse and its attendant emotions are depicted in late medieval English literary writing and how scribes readers engaged with suicide on the page.