The Brown Center invites you to our Faculty Spotlight on Wednesday, March 17th at 12:00 PM on Blackboard Ultra. The spotlight series is a showcase of research, creative inquiry, and other scholarly engagement of the campus community. Stop by and learn about the research of our talented Stetson community! 

Dr. Thomas J. Farrell- Professor of English

Department of English

The Scribal Transmission of Chaucer’s Reeve’s Tale

My presentation addresses work done during my 2020 Summer Grant.  After reviewing the absence of a standard dialect in Middle English and what we know about the habits of scribes in the 15th century, specifically with respect to texts written in a different dialect, I will describe the consequent difficulties arising for scribes asked to copy the Reeve’s Tale (from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales)—the earliest text in English to use dialect as a strategy of characterization.  Most of my presentation will address my attempts to develop a suitable methodology to answer two questions crucial for any editor of the Reeve’s Tale:  1) To what extent did scribes attempt to preserve intact the dialect forms included by Chaucer?  2)  To what extent did they succeed in doing so?  I will then review the interesting evidence that scribes have provided about my questions, concluding with a brief overview of how the editorial process might use the answers I have generated.

Tom Farrell has taught in Stetson’s English Department since 1984.  For the last dozen years or so, his research has focused on questions related to manuscripts, editorial theory, and scribal behavior in the 14th century English literature and especially in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.