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  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Fisher-Bennett Hall Faculty Lounge

“‘To maken vertu of necessitee’: Emelye, Prudence, and Feminist Subjectivity”

This paper contrasts two of Chaucer’s women—Emelye from the Knight’s Tale and Prudence from the Tale of Melibee—in order to elaborate what I argue is a feminist model of subjectivity in the Canterbury Tales. While Emelye’s vulnerability issues a critique of heroic virtus, Prudence’s advice outlines a subjectivity defined by openness and endurance, and characterized by contingency and submission.To become virtuous, as the Melibee’s allegorization of feminine counsel details, is to become the kind of person Prudence recommends, but also represents. As I suggest with a return to Emelye in the conclusion to this paper, it is to assume the position of a woman in a moral ecology that remains dominated by masculinist ideals of ethical virtue.