Explores the representation of emotions as psychological concepts and cultural constructs in Geoffrey Chaucer's narrative poetry. McTaggart argues that Chaucer's main works including The Canterbury Tales are united thematically in their positive view of guilt and in their anxiety about the desire for sacrifice and vengeance that shame can provoke.
ANNE MCTAGGART is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
"Coinciding with the current wave of emotion scholarship, Shame and Guilt in Chaucer is a well-timed contribution to Chaucer studies. McTaggart's exploration of the intersections between shame, guilt, and penance in Chaucer's work is carefully undertaken and usefully draws together threads from psychoanalytical and anthropological scholarship, as well as feminist criticism, confession studies, and the history of emotion (particularly shame studies)." - Speculum
"This book is a careful study of the acts and effects of penance in Chaucer's poetry. McTaggart exhibits particular discernment in her handling of the guilty conscience, a private passion that can be hard to distinguish from other moods and motivations. Ever threatening to dissolve into mere public performance whenever expressed or depicted, guilt is difficult to assess. How then does Chaucer approach the perennial ambiguities of guilt and shame? In a series of penetrating analyses, this book establishes that Chaucer is dubious about the possibilities of true confession even as he remains shamelessly, one can almost say committed to its ethical potential. The result is a sort of penitential poetic." - J. Allan Mitchell, University of Victoria
'McTaggart's lucid, engaging, and highly readable book brilliantly explores the shifting intersection of key affective modes across Chaucer's poetry. An illuminating contribution to the study of Chaucerian ethics, Shame and Guilt in Chaucer offers a richly contextualized and conceptually sophisticated perspective on Chaucer's narrative anthropology.' - Jamie C. Fumo, McGill University