Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Palindromic Structure in Chaucer's 'Pardoner's Tale'




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



This paper will describe the medieval creative process known as palindromic structure, a face of anagogy that, as far as we can determine, has largely been ignored in contemporary writing courses. It will begin by examining the little verses attributed to Nicolas de Lira that were a staple of schoolboy stu, Les Littera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria,/Tropologia quid agas, quid tendas, anagogia, and show how they were used to teach students creative process in Latin composition. After introducing Mary Douglas's study of the structure, it will apply her criteria to Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale, and demonstrate authorial intentionality by referencing a section of the Parson's Tale. Finally, it will introduce other late medieval works that were conceived by the same creative process, explaining their purpose and exposing the ubiquity of the form.

Conference Name

Taking Risks

Conference Location

Dearborn, MI

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