To Canterbury town: Celebrating Chaucer at ASU

The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is mentioned in "The Canterbury Tales."

The third biennial ASU Chaucer Celebration – themed “Chaucer’s England: Sights, Sounds, Poetry” – focuses on 14th century urban spaces, music and texts. A series of events honoring Geoffrey Chaucer, the famed “father of English literature” will take place on March 30, on the ASU Tempe campus.

Perhaps best known as the writer of “The Canterbury Tales,” Chaucer is considered the first all-English writer. In the Middle Ages, English was the language of the commoners, while typical “literary” languages were Latin, Greek or French. 

According to professor and associate chair in the Department of English, Robert Sturges, “Chaucer is one of the great, seminal figures in the history of English literature, and we celebrate his works and his time period, the late Middle Ages, biennially, with scholarly discussions, music and library exhibits. This year we're especially lucky that we are able to bring in a distinguished medievalist, Professor Christine Chism of UCLA, to participate in our roundtable discussion.”

Guest scholar Chism is the author of the book “Alliterative Revivals,” a study of late medieval poetry, and has taught classes on Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” among other topics. In 2003, she received a New Directions Mellon Fellowship to learn Arabic and study Islamic culture; this support has enabled her current research comparing medieval Islamic and Christian texts.

The March 30 roundtable discussion featuring Chism on “Gendering Places in the Fourteenth Century” takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Durham Language and Literature Building, room 316. Joining Chism at the roundtable are Sturges and English faculty member Rosalynn Voaden. All are specialists in medieval literature.

Following the discussion will be a light luncheon from 12:30 to 1:30, then a concert by Solis Camerata, ASU’s early music chamber choir, from 1:45 to 2:30 p.m., also in LL 316.

Concurrent with the events, Hayden Library is hosting an exhibition of early printed books of “Chauceriana” all day in the library rotunda and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Luhrs Reading Room.

An event in Project Humanities, which explores the ways we connect with each other and make meaning of our shared experiences, the Department of English’s Chaucer Celebration is also supported by the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

All festivities are free of charge and open to the public.

For more information on the celebration events, please visit: For information about Project Humanities, which is coordinated by Neal A. Lester, professor of English and associate vice president in the ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, please visit

Written by Deanna Stover

Media contact:
Kristen LaRue,
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences