The purpose of Chaucernet is professional communication among persons with a scholarly interest in Geoffrey Chaucer and late medieval literature. It is not a chat line or a "homework hotline" and it is not designed for introductory education. Most members of this list are graduate students or faculty who have a professional interest in Chaucer. Others who wish to learn more about Chaucer are certainly welcome to join the list, but it is not the place for elementary questions that could be answered by consulting annotated editions of Chaucer or basic reference materials.

Later in this message is a list of on-line and printed resources that are valuable for anyone, but especially suited to beginners in Chaucer studies.

Thomas Bestul (listowner) Professor of English University of Illinois at Chicago TBESTUL@UIC.EDU

Especially if you are a student, please read the following notes on netiquette compiled by Professor Laura Hodges, Houston:

"Each semester new students subscribe to Chaucernet, and for the most part they have to learn to cope with list rules, those written and unwritten, by trial and error. This results, inevitably, in some unwitting errors in netiquette and quite possibly some bruised feelings. Perhaps some of the negative results of this can be eliminated if we discuss a few points of netiquette and/or list procedures. I offer one suggestion below on the way to get the best results from queries to the list:

The best request for assistance first establishes the context of the project such as: a class assignment, a final research paper, an essay contest, etc. A question might be asked just to satisfy personal curiosity as well. Second, the question should be stated as clearly as possible, and this means narrowing it down to manageable size. For example: "What do list members think about Chaucer's women?" would be an unmanageable question for any answer short of book-length (or several volumes) answers. Finally, clarify your present stage of this research by listing the sources already consulted. If an OCLC search has been conducted already, and a double-check with the last 10 years of the MLA bibliography confirms that there is nothing on your topic, then say so. That lets other list members know that you've done your preliminary work. If you found ten sources in that process and have read all ten and followed up all of the leads given in footnotes, you probably won't need any help from the list. However, you might want confirmation that you've given it your best shot. In that case, you might query the list, giving a quick list of sources read and ask if you've missed anything major that should have been included.

It has been my experience that Chaucernetters are notoriously generous with their help--many are teachers, and it's hard for a good teacher to resist a good question when they have a good answer for it. But time is limited, so everyone wants to make the best use of it.

I hope the above suggestions for making queries to the list will prove helpful to all of the new list members. Some of the best questions this list has had to discuss in the last several years have come from students who didn't happen to have, yet, all of the "received" and "traditional" answers and so were looking at Chaucer in new and quite interesting ways. I hope we'll have some more of these thought-provoking questions.

Laura Hodges






[resource for medieval studies in general]


(compiled by Professor Laura Hodges, Houston)

Your first line of research should be the notes and bibliography contained in the edition of Chaucer's works you are using in your class. The notes in the Riverside edition begin p. 795. These notes will refer to sources listed in the bibliography pp. 771-93.

In the list below there are directions to the on-line Chaucer bibliography which should help you in your research. You can do a word search for key words or individual characters.

List of resources you might use for your questions:

A Variorum Edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Vol II The Canterbury Tales: The General Prologue, Ed. Malcolm Andrew, et al (Norman and London: Univ. of Oklahoma P, 1993).

This is a summary of critics' opinions concerning every pilgrim in the _General Prologue_ up to 1985, presented line-by-line of the GP. It is possible to follow an entire argument from its beginnings up to that cut-off date. Articles after 1985 on a given topic can be located through the MLA bibliography.

If your library does not have the Variorum edition of the General Prologue, then try for:

Caroline D. Eckhardt, Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales: An Annotated Bibliography 1900 to 1982 (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto P, 1990).

Your library may have other bibliographies on Chaucer with sections pertaining to the General Prologue and your librarian could tell you where they are.

Studies in the Age of Chaucer [SAC] has a bibliography in book form that comes out each year.


The SAC bibliography is on-line; it begins with 1975, and it is brought up to date each year, in accordance with the most recently published annual annotated bibliography of SAC. The database at present is fully searchable by title, author, subject, and keyword.

The old directions for getting to this on-line bibliography are:

Simply telnet to: UTSAIBM.UTSA.EDU, and type <library> at the request for application. At the prompt, request the <LOCAL> databases, and then specify <CHAU> for the bibliography. Instructions for the search commands are online. The sign-off for the database is <STOP>. Please forward any comments, questions, corrections, or suggestions to: Mark Allen; English, Classics, Philosophy, & Communication; The University of Texas at San Antonio; San Antonio, TX 78249-0643.

The new address for the on-line bibliography is:


You might also find it helpful to consult:

Cooper, Helen. The Canterbury Tales, Oxford Guides to Chaucer (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989).

This is the beginning of a catalogue of such resources that I send periodically in response to general inquiries posted to Chaucernet. Suggestions for additions are welcome.

Laura Hodges