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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Jenny Adams

Second Advisor

Ingrid Nelson

Third Advisor

Jessica Barr

Fourth Advisor

Jane Degenhardt

Subject Categories

Literature in English, British Isles | Medieval Studies


After the rediscovery of Aristotle’s works on natural science in the thirteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer’s late fourteenth-century world saw a new interest in materialism with an awareness that materiality also implies loss. “Literary Negation and Materialism in Chaucer” explores the ways particular moments of negation—the imagined absence of a person, thing, or condition—operate in Chaucer’s work and the ways Chaucer deploys such moments as part of a larger pattern of negation that broke with the poetics that preceded him. My methodology grows out of discussions about form, philosophy, science and technology, economics, translation, and materialism. I integrate this interdisciplinary framework with a cross-genre approach to Chaucer’s long narrative poetry, prose manuals, framed tales, dream visions, lyrics, and philosophical dialogues. In chapters examining the power of literary language to generate material repercussions even when it seems to negate them, I argue that Chaucer’s techniques of negation serve to withdraw certain material referents in order to explore the potential of imaginative literature to fill in what is missing and locate a pathway for abundance and recuperation. “Literary Negation and Materialism in Chaucer” foregrounds an overlooked current in Chaucer’s work which can serve as a starting point for a “negative turn” to reshape a field confronting issues of canonicity and equity.