Dr. Cory Rushton, StFX English Department: The Fairies of the Wife of Bath's Tale
"The Wife of Bath's Tale has been described as a fairy tale not only because it has a happy ending based in wish fulfillment, but because it has actual fairies in it: the ring of dancers encountered by the rapist-knight on his search to answer the question of what women want. These fairies can seem under-developed: they disappear, replaced by the old woman who has the knight's answer. In this lecture, I will explore how Chaucer and others use the trope of the fairy. Far from the flighty creatures known to modern day New Age shops and children's literature, the medieval fairy was a baffling and sometimes terrifying creature who could threaten mortals or offer them the chance of personal transformation in equal measure."