In this course, Professor Carolyne Larrington (University of Oxford) explores Geoffrey Chaucer's Merchant's Tale. We begin by thinking about the Merchant himself, who is introduced in the General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales. After that, we think about the genre of the tale – a fabliau – as well as the Marriage Debate between Januarie, Justinus and Placebo that begins the tale. In the third module, we turn to the wedding-scene itself and the introduction of the figure of Damian, before turning in the fourth module to the garden scene, focusing in particular on the symbolism of the enclosed garden and the pear tree in Medieval literature. In the fifth module, we think about the appearance of another married couple of in the tale – Pluto and Proserpina, here figured as the King and Queen of the Fairies – before moving on in the sixth module and the end of the tale.
Dr. Carolyne Larrington teaches medieval English literature in the college, ranging from the earliest Old English to the beginning of the Renaissance period.
Dr Larrington's research interests are in Old Icelandic literature, medieval women's writing, European Arthurian literature, and, most recently, medieval emotion. She has published on Old English and Old Icelandic wisdom poetry, compiled "Women and Writing in Medieval Europe: A Sourcebook" and edited two collections of essays on the Old Norse "Poetic Edda". Her revised and expanded translation of the "Poetic Edda", just published, is the standard. Her most recent monograph is 'King Arthur's Enchantresses: Morgan and Her Sisters in Arthurian Tradition' which appeared from IB Tauris in June 2006. Her book on sibling relations in European medieval literature, and a new popular book on British folklore, "The Land of the Green Man" will be published in 2015; a BBC Radio 4 series based on the folklore book has also been commissioned. She is currently editing a collection of essays on emotion in Arthurian literature, and a Handbook to Eddic Poetry. She has been until recently editor-in-chief of the journal Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, and the President of the Viking Society for Northern Research, the British scholarly society for Old Norse study.