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Chaucer: The Merchant's Tale

3. European Contexts

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about how Chaucer engages with contemporary European literature and politics in the Merchant's Tale, focusing in particular on French and Italian sources that Chaucer makes use of, as well as the setting of the Tale in the region of Italy known as Lombardy.


In this course, Professor Marion Turner (University of Oxford) explores Geoffrey Chaucer's Merchant's Tale. We begin by thinking about some of the Biblical allusions in the Tale, focusing in particular on the Garden the Eden and the Song of Songs. After that, we turn to some of the Classical allusions in the Tale and how these interact with the Biblical allusions outlined in the previous section. In the third module, we think about the Merchant's Tale in relation to the contemporary Italian and French sources that Chaucer would have been familiar with, before looking in more detail at the Tale's setting in Lombardy, before turning in the fourth module to think about how the Merchant's Tale engages with other Tales in the collection as a whole. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the themes of perception and perspective in the Tale.


Marion Turner is Associate Professor of English at Jesus College, University of Oxford. She is the author of a ground-breaking biography of Chaucer: Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton, 2019). This biography focuses on Chaucer as an international figure, exploring his travels, his multicultural influences, his multilingual identity, and the global aspects of medieval London.

Her other books include Chaucerian Conflict (Oxford, 2007) and, as editor, A Handbook of Middle English Studies (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and she has published many articles on Chaucer and other aspects of late medieval literature. Marion has received research funding from the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Wellcome Trust. She often speaks in the media, including Radio 4, BBC1, Channel 4, and ITV. She has a particular interest in outreach, taking part in Chaucer Days at the Ashmolean Museum and the Weston Library, aimed at sixth form students of Chaucer, and often speaking at schools and colleges.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Turner, M. (2018, August 15). Chaucer: The Merchant's Tale - European Contexts [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Turner, M. "Chaucer: The Merchant's Tale – European Contexts." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,