Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
This dissertation examines religious oaths and asseverations in the fabliaux of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. To contextualize Chaucer's fabliaux, I look at some of his possible sources and analogues--Dame Sirith, the first extant English fabliau, the Old French fabliaux, and Boccaccio's Decameron. Using religious oaths to underscore the contrast between idealized values and earthly, temporal values, Chaucer prods readers to locate themselves both within their social and their spiritual communities. Asking believers to consider what it means to make a powerful faith-based promise, especially when the circumstances surrounding that guarantor have been ironically charged, Chaucer actively troubles the creation of self, the establishment of community and the place of the swearer within that community, noting the degree to which all three fail to achieve the spiritual ideal of the oath-state. My dissertation explores that dissonance writ large within and across the Tales.