Geoffrey Chaucer, the “Father of English Poetry,” has always posed a unique challenge to feminist critique. Constructed as a poetic figure according to his so-called paternity of a long line of literary sons, Chaucer stood for generations as the paterfamilias of the English canon, a bulwark of masculinity fit to fight against the incursions of the female sex. Indeed, as Carolyn Dinshaw reminded the audience at the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of her foundational book, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics, the very idea of a feminist re-visioning of medieval England's most famous poetic son was profoundly threatening to the medievalist community of 1989.1 While previous scholars had studied Chaucer's female characters, Dinshaw—and the feminist scholars who followed her—demanded something far more radical. They argued that one could not read the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer without a consideration of gender, that Chaucer's treatment of sex and gender was inseparable from his larger...

You do not currently have access to this content.