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This article analyzes Chaucer’s Complaint Unto Pity within the current renewed interest in form and English-French literary relations. I argue that a knowledge of medieval French poetic conventions reveals an interplay between form and meaning in Pity that would have been obvious in its original fourteenth-century bilingual Ricardian setting, but which is overlooked in modern readings. By exaggerating and twisting multiple components of the French love literature tradition, Chaucer creates a poem that is simultaneously both a clever critique and a loving homage of complaint.

Findern MS Bibliography, Oxford University Press

My bibliography on the Findern MS provides a survey of the most relevant scholarship on the manuscript. In keeping with the goals of Oxford Bibliography, it is an excellent starting point for scholars working on the Findern.

“Make thereof a game”: The Interplay of Texts in the Findern Manuscript and its Late Medieval Textual Community

The Findern MS (CUL MS Ff.1.6) is a Middle English scrapbook compiled in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries by a series of gentry neighbors in the countryside of Derbyshire. The volume contains notable love literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth-century, as well as two-dozen anonymous lyrics that are unique to the manuscript. Examining these texts within their manuscript context reveals connections between them, which alter our reading of the individual texts and also allows an understanding of the texts as deliberately created sequences. In particular, the original lyrics written by the manuscript's gentry creators are often responses to love questions broached initially in the canonical works. A close look at the physical clues within the manuscript reveals that these playful textual interactions are part of an informal social "game of love." Using the canonical texts as starting points, the gentry create their own poetry and songs, forming multi-voiced debates on love topics that explore different points of view. Proficiency at these "game of love" activities allowed late medieval gentry to perform their gentility, a performance that had both economic and social benefits. 

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