The History Woman's Blog

Shakespeare, Chaucer and Joyce: A Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Authorship

Posted in Conferences, Early Modern, literature by thehistorywoman on July 3, 2010

If it has never occurred to you that Chaucer might have influenced Joyce as much as Homer then you should read more medieval literature – or listen to Helen Cooper (Cambridge). Even though Joyce decided to name his Ulysses after Homer’s classical Odyssey, Cooper argues, his true ‘poetic father’ in the English language was Chaucer, and the Canterbury Tales served as a model for the chapters in Ulysses, each of which is based on a different character or location, using different language and style.

I must say I have learnt quite a few new things over the past few days in Geneva, where the Second Biennial Conference of the Swiss Association of Medieval and Early Modern English Studies (Samemes) shed new light on aspects of ‘Medieval and Early Modern Authorship’. Colin Burrow (Oxford), for instance, called into question the notion of an emergent ‘individual authorship’ in the early modern period and emphasised the collaborative nature of early modern textual production. In particular, authors worked closely with the editors and printers of their works and thus were close collaborators with the press rather than detached artists.

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