Chaucer and the Matter of Troy
Reading the Blank Spaces in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 61
Marilynn DesmondDistinguished Professor, English Department, SUNY Binghamton
Friday, March 4 2016
CUNY Graduate Center365 5th Ave (btw 34th and 35th Streets)
English Studies Conference Room (4406)
The only illustrated manuscript of Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde--Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 6--contains an elaborate frontispiece as well as 90 blanks spaces for images that were never produced. These blank spaces paradoxically represent an intertextual and even inter-visual dialogue with the matter of Troy in the tradition of universal history known as the Histoire ancienne jusq’à César. Situating Chaucer’s Troilus in relation to the pan-European dissemination of the matter of Troy in the Histoire ancienne illustrates the resilient materiality of the book as artefact, the non-human agent responsible for the survival and itineraries of pre-modern texts.