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Censoring Chaucer TERMINATED

Censoring Chaucer: Canonicity and Obscenity in Manuscripts and Print Editions of the Canterbury Tales (c. 1400 - 1831)

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 Censoring Chaucer project word cloud

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status    least    writers    chaucer    incorporates    modernizers    canonicity    relation    compiled    public    book    audience    print    southey    1400    training    traces    body    situate    tension    poet    made    manuscripts    reader    relationship    note    eyes    books    death    1405    modify    conference    expurgated    printed    scholarly    incunables    perceived    editions    content    viewed    earliest    investigates    intensive    canonical    period    editors    indecorous    effort    laureate    obscene    msca    version    literary    heritage    widest    publication    remarks    language    contemporaneous    oxford    variations    me    articles    surviving    manuscript    history    course    canterbury    perceive    tales    sex    occasionally    readers    closely    odds    regarding    expert    fellowship    day    functions    1831    reputation    comment    engagement    university    building    medieval    robert    presentations    bodily    obscenity    scribes    alongside    communicate    annotations    intended    modern    whereas    persistently    downplay    famous   

Project "Censoring Chaucer" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: OXFORD
postcode: OX1 2JD

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Total cost 195˙454 €
 EC max contribution 195˙454 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2016
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-ST
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-09-01   to  2020-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

This project investigates the relationship between Chaucer's canonical status and his obscenity, both of which have been closely associated with the Canterbury Tales since Chaucer's death in 1400. Readers of the Canterbury Tales have made note of its occasionally indecorous language and content (particularly in relation to sex, the body, and bodily functions) ever since the earliest surviving manuscript was compiled c. 1405. But whereas obscenity is one of the major features of Chaucer's reputation in the eyes of present-day readers, many medieval and early modern readers viewed Chaucer’s obscene matter as standing at odds with his canonicity. This project traces the building tension between Chaucer's perceived obscenity and his literary reputation from his death in 1400 to the publication of poet laureate Robert Southey's expurgated version of the Canterbury Tales in 1831. By examining variations in the language and content of manuscripts, incunables, and print editions of the Canterbury Tales produced within this period (as well as reader annotations), I will show that scribes, readers, editors, and modernizers of Chaucer's most famous work persistently modify or comment on its language and content in an effort to downplay (or, occasionally, to enhance) what they perceive as obscene. I situate my findings alongside contemporaneous remarks by writers and editors regarding Chaucer's literary heritage in order to assess the relationship between variations in his reputation and variations in the Canterbury Tales. The project incorporates intensive training in the study of manuscripts and early printed books, and will result in at least 2 scholarly articles, a book proposal, and several conference presentations and public engagement initiatives intended to communicate my results to the widest possible audience. A MSCA Fellowship at the University of Oxford will enable me to work closely with a leading expert in the history of the book over the course of the project.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2020 Mary C. Flannery
\'Et cetera: Obscenity and Textual Play in the Hengwrt Manuscript\'
published pages: , ISSN: 0190-2407, DOI:
Studies in the Age of Chaucer 42 2020-01-30
2019 Mary C. Flannery
\'Looking for Scribal Play in Oxford, New College MS 314\'
published pages: , ISSN: 2517-6935, DOI:
New College Notes 12 2020-01-30
2018 Mary C. Flannery
\'Response: Langlandian Personification\'
published pages: , ISSN: 0890-2917, DOI:
Yearbook of Langland Studies 33 2020-01-30

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