Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Yt Ys Nat Chaucer on lane That Hath a Blog

I made mention yesterday of the Chaucer blog, one of the more entertaining inside jokes for medievalists. The idea in it is that the text of the blog mimics what the greatest of Geoffreys would write were he to have a blog, as well as what some few others would contribute, given the chance. It is not itself scholarly work, although it is informed by scholarship, but it does serve as an excellent example of how the medieval can be brought forward.

Playing with the materials, such as the Chaucer blog does, is important. Too often, members of the general public get bogged down in the age of the medieval, thinking that the works are dreadfully dull in all cases. Perhaps this comes from poor teaching, in which people who do not really understand the material are obliged to transmit it as important cultural heritage; they do not know it and so cannot love it, and when they present it without love as they are then obliged to do, they foster in their students the impression that the material cannot be loved. But making the material a means of fun is a way to draw people into it, a way to show them that the medieval can be every bit as engaging as the modern--more, in some ways, since its greater removal allows for consideration of the work without necessarily entangling with contemporary concerns that distract from the work considered. Taking the material as the basis for a series of jokes as the Chaucer blog does makes the material a still-living thing, even if only in a small niche, and anything that helps to keep the better parts of the medieval alive helps medievalist studies such as those the Society promotes, and that is good for us all.

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