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


Volume 5 - January 2006

We are pleased to present the fifth volume of Medieval Forum. The articles cover a broad range of interests, experience and expression corresponding to a diverse readership, and we hope that they will spark a lively dialog. You may contact the authors directly, and/or you may submit your comments on the articles and the website to the editors for posting.



Chaucer and the Early Church
Melanie L. Kaiser and James M. Dean

Although some Chaucerians have questioned the place and integrity of Chaucer’s Second Nun’s Tale, we believe it has an important use in the Canterbury book. Few of the other tales address spiritual issues relevant to the pilgrimage, but the Second Nun’s Tale directly addresses the religious purpose of the Canterbury journey. The tale presents the early church as unified and dedicated to conversion, unlike the divided papacy of Chaucer’s day. The portrayal of the unified church was perhaps why Chaucer thought to include the previously written Lyf of Seint Cecile in his Canterbury Tales.


“Turn, traitor untrew”: Altering Arthur and Mordred in the Alliterative Morte Arthure
William David Floyd

The Alliterative Morte presents the reader with at least two questions in regard to characterization. One is the drastic change Arthur undergoes some halfway through, from prudent and virtuous king to cruel and reckless tyrant. The other involves the baffling change Mordred makes from humble and reluctant surrogate to murderous adulterer. Certain narrative gaps exist in the text wherein some explanation might otherwise justify these developments. However, we are offered some recourse to reconciling these factors. Because the poet saw it necessary to concentrate a good deal on the actions of these knights, it seems logical to consider their literary operation.


Lords Temporal and Spiritual: The Interactions of Papal and Royal Power in John Capgrave's Abbreuiacion of Cronicles
Slawomir Konkol

This paper examines the reflection of the conflicting influences of John Capgrave's era in the presentation of the relations of royal and papal power in his Abbreuiacion of Cronicles. Showing the influence of both the perception of the divine as the source of all human authority and the political climate of his times, with the emerging sense of national identity, Capgrave captures the changing spirit of historiography at the beginning of the fifteenth century. The state is still presented as closely connected to ecclesiastical institutions but increasingly independent from the Church.


I Alisoun, I Wife: Foucault’s Three Egos and
the Wife of Bath’s Prologue

Rachel Ann Baumgardner

Throughout the body of feminist criticism that surrounds the Wife of Bath’s Prologue, two opposing schools of thought have emerged: those who believe that she is a representative of early feminist thought and action, and those who believe that Alisoun is nothing more than a pawn, skillfully played to satisfy male desires and fantasies. Out of this division emerges a critical dilemma centering on whether or not the Wife of Bath can be considered as a subject for feminist thought at all, since “she” is, essentially, the creation of a male mind: Geoffrey Chaucer. This essay attempts to prove the Wife of Bath’s position as a fully realized character within her Prologue, independent of Chaucer. Employing Michel Foucault’s theories on authorship found within his work “What is an Author?,” this essay will show that the Wife of Bath manipulates the majority of voices heard within her Prologue, thereby supplying her with agency that allows for the feminist critical study of her as an autonomous character.



Book Review

J. R. R. Tolkien, Beowulf and the Critics
Ed. Michael D. C. Drout


New Editions

Trans. Victor Watts and ed. David Fuller and Corinne Saunders.

The Complete Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer
Ed. John H. Fisher and Mark Allen



The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame Ragnell
Performed by Linda Marie Zaerr


Submissions are now being invited and reviewed for Volume 6, scheduled for January 2007 with a submission deadline of 30 November 2006. Please see the submission guidelines if you would like to submit an article, book review or other item of interest to fellow medievalists. If you have any questions, please contact the editors.

Contributors retain the copyright to their works and should be contacted directly with reprint and distribution requests. All citations from works distributed on this website must be fully and accurately attributed.