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Ingrid Nelson
Trustees of Amherst College (Amherst, MA 01002-2372)
Ambient Media in Chaucer’s House of Fame

Research leading to a book on the way that Chaucer discusses aural and textual media such as spoken word and manuscripts in his literary texts, and the ways in which he conceptualized the circulation of media and culture.

This project is a chapter of a book-in-progress titled “Chaucer’s Premodern Media.” While medieval culture lacked the machine technologies that we associate with the term “media,” this book demonstrates that it had extensive philosophical, political, and spiritual discourses of media and mediation. The project counters a common assertion among media theorists that no media exists before the arrival of the printing press in the West. The chapter I plan to complete during the summer, “Ambient Media in Chaucer’s House of Fame,” brings together the scientific and communicative senses of “media.” Following thirteenth-century Latin translations, Aristotle’s theory of sense perception through natural media, including air, was newly available to medieval audiences. Chaucer’s poem uses Aristotle’s theories to examine how bodies and their environments generate what we now call communicative media: written words and images, but also the physical milieux that transmit texts and content.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
British Literature

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020