Editors: George W. Tuma, Professor of English, and Dinah Hazell, Independent Scholar
Hosted by the English Department, San Francisco State University



The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame Ragnell
Performed by Linda Marie Zaerr
TEAMS and the Chaucer Studio, 1999

This valuable classroom resource, while not new, is too good to escape notice. Though primarily intended for educational purposes, it is both instructional and delightful and can be used by students and scholars as an alternative to reading text while refining mastery of the Middle English language. Performance scholar Linda Marie Zaerr (“Music and Magic in Le Bel Inconnu and Lybeaus Desconus,” Medieval Forum Volume 4) recites the tale of Gawen’s betrothal to a repulsive hag in order to secure the answer to the riddle “whate wemen love best” that will save Arthur’s life. The poem as preserved in text is written in six-line stanzas with a nominal rhyme scheme of aabccb, but Zaerr’s delivery is fluent without sacrificing rhythm or prosody. Her Middle English is flawless, and in medieval tradition she occasionally veers from the text, demonstrating the process of oral transmission. It takes approximately 45 minutes to present the 855-line poem, and the performance is enriched by costumes, outdoor settings, and Gothic harp music.

The tape was produced by the Chaucer Studio and TEAMS, with funding from NEH and Boise State University. The Chaucer Studio, founded in 1986, is assisted by the English departments of the University of Adelaide and Brigham Young University with the goal of providing recordings of low-cost medieval English texts for teaching and research. Their list includes video and audio cassettes and CDs of Chaucerian and non-Chaucerian works, and they can be visited at http://english.byu.edu/chaucer.