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Chaucer: The Wife of Bath's Tale

3. The Wife of Bath and Her Tale

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About this Lecture


In this module, we turn to the Wife of Bath’s Tale itself. Why does Chaucer give the Wife of Bath a traditional ‘loathly lady’ romance, and what does this tell us about the Wife of Bath herself?


In this course, we explore the Wife of Bath’s Tale and Prologue in Chaucer’s in Canterbury Tales. In the first module, we consider the presentation of the Wife of Bath in the General Prologue, thinking about the extent to which the Wife of Bath is presented as a comedic figure. After that, we focus on the Wife of Bath as a ‘reader’ and interpreter of written texts, thinking in particular about what it means for Chaucer to show an uneducated woman with no access to literacy or scholarly discourse attempting to engage with written authority. In the third module, we explore the Wife of Bath’s Tale itself, before thinking about her Tale in the context of other Tales in the Canterbury Tales, particularly the ‘Marriage Group’, but also the Parson’s Tale and the Tale of Melibee. In the final module, we think about the Medieval and Post-Medieval afterlife of the Wife of Bath – her presentation by writers such as Thomas Hoccleve, William Lydgate, and John Skelton, as well as in the ballad ‘The Wanton Wife of Bath’.


Anna joined Keble College, Oxford in 2010 as the College Lecturer in Old and Middle English. She teaches Moderations Paper 3 (Old English), Final Honour Schools Paper 3 (Middle English) and Final Honour Schools Paper 1 (The English Language), as well as medieval special topics and authors.

Before coming to Keble, she was a Non-Stipendiary Lecturer at St Anne’s and Merton Colleges from 2008-2010. She also worked on the Oxford University Computing Services’ Woruldhord Project, an online resource for students and teachers of Old English, from July-October 2010 ( She completed her Masters at Christ Church in 2006, and her DPhil in 2010. She took her undergraduate degrees, which were in English and Law, at the University of Melbourne in 2005.

Anna's work is primarily concerned with the depiction of masculinity, violence and conflict in the late Middle Ages. Her doctoral research focused specifically on the representation of knighthood and chivalry in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Scotland, and she is now working to extend this research into a more wide-ranging comparative study of conflict and conflict-resolution in late medieval and early modern Scotland and England. She has also published shorter articles on the Scottish Alexander and Arthurian traditions, the politics of translation in Gavin Douglas’ 1513 translation of the Aeneid and gender and sexuality in Malory’s Morte Arthur.

She also possesses a strong research interest in Digital Humanities, and particularly in the potential for online editions to make manuscript and print witnesses more widely available to students and researchers.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Caughey, A. (2018, August 15). Chaucer: The Wife of Bath's Tale - The Wife of Bath and Her Tale [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Caughey, A. "Chaucer: The Wife of Bath's Tale – The Wife of Bath and Her Tale." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,