Professor Peter Brown
School of English - Professor of Medieval English Literature
(BA, Sussex; PhD, York)
Office: W4.N6 (Rutherford)
I have previously taught at the University of Exeter, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Connecticut at Storrs and at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where I was a Fulbright Scholar. I have lectured extensively in north America, New Zealand and Europe.
Projects nearing completion include a study of the text and context of the imperfect version of Thomas Hoccleve’s Male Regle in Canterbury Cathedral Archives, a survey of literary practice in and around Canterbury during the years 1348 to 1420, and an account of Chaucer’s travels for the courts of Edward III and Richard II.
Two books of mine appeared in 2013. The first, Reading Chaucer (Oxford and Bern: Peter Lang) is a selection of essays previously published with the addition of one new piece, ‘Towards a Bohemian Reading of Troilus and Criseyde’. It puts Chaucer’s great poem within the context of the central European culture that he encountered at the court of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. Other essays cover authors such as John Gower, Ranulph Higden and Thomas Hoccleve. Inspect the book here.
The second book, Tango (Canterbury: Yorick Books) is a meditation on the way in which tango mediates touch through technique and decorum. It looks at the theme of touch in representations of the dance in the internet film Perdizione, the iconic song ‘Volver’ sung by Carlos Gardel and a ‘metaphysical’ poem on the bandoneón by Mario Benedetti. Some of the wider implications of touch and tango are caught in a series of short poems. Inspect the book here.
A recent article, ‘Chaucer and Shakespeare: The case of the Merchant’s Tale’, Chaucer Review 48.2 (2013), 222–37, maps the influence of Chaucer’s narrative in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries before exploring the significance of Chaucer’s use of faery as a link with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 2011, Oxford University Press published Geoffrey Chaucer in their Authors in Context series for Oxford World's Classics. The book covers the extraordinary political and cultural conditions in which Chaucer lived and wrote: a protracted war with France, devastating plague, the peasants' revolt, religious controversy, and the overthrow of the king, Richard II. Significant aspects of the literary scene, such as patronage, audience and performance, also help to place his practices in their historical framework. A concluding chapter examines the modern reception of Chaucer in film and television adaptations. Preview here.
Other research interests have included the medieval science of optics, dreams, visual culture, literature and place, and historiography.
- Reading Chaucer: Selected Essays, (Peter Lang, 2013)
- Tango (Yorick Books, 2013)
- Geoffrey Chaucer. Oxford World’s Classics: Authors in Context (Oxford University Press, 2011)
- Chaucer and the Making of Optical Space (Peter Lang, 2007)
- editor and contributor, A Companion to Medieval English Literature and Culture c.1350–c.1500 (Blackwell, 2007)
- editor with Michael Irwin and contributor, Literature and Place 1800–2000 (Peter Lang, 2006)
- editor, A Companion to Chaucer (Blackwell, 2000)
- editor and contributor, Reading Dreams: The Interpretation of Dreams from Chaucer to Shakespeare (Oxford University Press, 1999)
- Chaucer at Work: The Making of the Canterbury Tales (Longman, 1994)
- with Andrew Butcher, The Age of Saturn: Literature and History in the Canterbury Tales (Blackwell, 1991)
Some recent chapters and articles
‘Chaucer and Shakespeare: The Case of the Merchant’s Tale’, Chaucer Review 48.2 (2013), 222–37.
‘Towards a Bohemian Reading of Troilus and Criseyde’ in Peter Brown, Reading Chaucer: Selected Essays (Peter Lang, 2013), pp. 57–84.
Topics covered in earlier essays and articles include:
- images in Hoccleve and Gower
- guides to Chaucer
- the literary identity of Canterbury from the Middle Ages to the present day
- medieval privies and the Miller's Tale
- the Hengwrt manuscript of the Canterbury Tales
- the iconography of the Castle of Jalousie in the Romance of the Rose
- a scientific treatise on the Seven Planets
- pilgrimage and the prologue to the Tale of Beryn
- Higden's Polychronicon.
Chaucer and other late medieval English writers, especially in relation to different aspects of medieval culture, including the visual arts, science, vernacular manuscripts, historiography, dreams and the representation of space.
I was founder editor-in-chief of the major on-line resource, published by Blackwell, for all periods of English and American literature, Literature Compass. I am general editor of the Blackwell History of English Literature (10 vols.) and former editor of the Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature 600-1500. I am a member of the Early English Text Society, Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature, Medieval Academy of America, Modern Language Association of America and Fulbright Association.