Category Archives: Chaucer (Geoffrey)

When Fiction Trumps Truth

Wednesday Writing last week for the New York Times’ “What Is Power?” series, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari argued that fiction is a more powerful force than truth in politics. I extend the discussion to literature (which Harari does not discuss) because of its reliance upon fabrication in the service of a higher understanding. Camus, […]

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Fantasy Frees Us from Narrow Thinking

Friday I share today a new insight that I gained from my recent Lifelong Learning class about “Wizards and Enchantresses.” To set it up, I first share my theory of fantasy. As I see it, fantasy is always oppositional in its invocation of magic and the supernatural. If it flourished in the wake of the […]

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Chaucer’s Friar and Abusive Clergy

Wednesday Like many, I had hopes that Pope Francis’s Vatican meeting on clergy sexual abuse would yield something substantial, and like many I have been disappointed. The pope, according to the New York Times, decided that the best way for the church to address the problem lay not in issuing an edict from Rome but […]

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The L. A. Rams and Chaucer’s Miller

Tuesday I’m experiencing déjà vu after seeing the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. When I was a teenager and just becoming interested in football, my beloved Minnesota Vikings were always encountering the Los Angeles Rams in playoff games. Then the Rams became the St. Louis Rams, but now they’re the Los Angeles Rams again, […]

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Teach Chaucer to Address Sexual Assault

Thursday I’ve been talking with Idaho English teacher Glenda Funk, who is proposing a panel for the upcoming NCTE convention (National Council of Teachers of English) on teaching literature in ways that make a tangible difference in students’ lives.  After I mentioned how The Wife of Bath’s Prelude and Tale foreground issues of sexual assault, […]

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Spirituality in Nature

John Gatta’s “Spirit of Place in American Literary Culture” explains why we find certain places, in nature and in civilization, to be infused with spirit.

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Chaucer Invented St. Valentine’s Day

Chaucer may have invented St. Valentine’s Day as we have come to know it. “Parliament of Fowls” was written to celebrate the occasion, along with a royal wedding.

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Riding with Chaucer into the New Year

Base your New Year’s resolutions on your favorite characters. I look to the Wife of Bath.

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Chaucer’s Solution for Sexual Assault

What are we to do about all of our sexual assaulters, given that they probably number in the thousands? Chaucer’s Wife of Bath has an answer.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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