Chaucer was an extraordinary writer who expressed the tenor of his times with ingenious verbal facility and a profound sympathy for the human condition. Like his original work, the ongoing study of his life, writings, and culture reflects the questions, conversations, and scholarly approaches of contemporary society. A renaissance of sorts in Chaucer studies has been flourishing in recent years, led by the scholars represented in this volume. They continue to chart a course for the next generation of work on Chaucer and medieval English literary studies.
Susanna Fein and David Raybin, editors of The Chaucer Review, have organized this volume to showcase those strands of inquiry and perspectives that are yielding exhilarating new slants on the poetic records of the Middle Ages. By combining twenty-first-century theoretical orientations and material perspectives, each of the twelve essays here adds contemporary relevance to our reading of Chaucer while remaining strongly grounded in his critical legacy. Using these methods to explore Chaucer's relationship to place, his contemporary sociolinguistic environment, and issues of humor, gender, and literary and political forces in his works, Chaucer: Contemporary Approaches not only presents experienced and budding scholars alike with an overview of modern approaches, but also provides a blueprint for Chaucer studies into the future.