Chaucer, Theology, and Authorship

“Writing Alternative Worlds: Rituals of Authorship in Late Medieval Theological and Literary Discourse.” In: Creations: Medieval Rituals, the Arts, and the Concept of Creation. Ed. Nils Holger Petersen, et al. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. 121-38.

Pieter Mannaerts, Music & Letters (2009): “Referring to the ‘rituals’ of literature in a more metaphorical sense, Richard Utz’s ‘Writing Alternative Worlds: Rituals of Authorship and Authority in Late Medieval Theological and Literary Discourse’ corrects a widespread view about medieval authors as anonymous or self-effacing instances, and makes clear that fourteenth-century literature […] deliberately ‘experiments with a variety of authorship roles’. That Foucault’s ‘author-function’ emerged in the late Middle Ages can be seen from Chaucer’s triple authorial (‘creator-like’) roles of narrator, impersonator of the divine spirit, and servant of the work’s audience.”

Jennifer Brown, Juris Lidaka, et al., Year’s Work in English Studies 88.1 (2009): “Richard Utz also takes up Henryson’s poem in relation to Chaucer’s […]. Utz argues that Henryson sees his poem as a Christian corrective to the secular attitudes towards courtly love and its repercussions that Chaucer puts forth in his poem.”

Valerie Allen & Margaret Connolly, The Year’s Work in English Studies 88.1 (2009): “Contrast the nominalism-informed perspective of Richard Utz, who challenges the legitimacy of Foucault’s sweeping claim that medieval authors were anonymous, and argues for a medieval sense of authorial sophistication in ‘Writing Alternative Worlds: Rituals of Authorship and Authority in Late Medieval Theological and Literary Discourse’ […]. Utz’s test cases are Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid, and John Metham’s Amoryus and Cleopes, and his driving idea the nominalist concept of potentia absoluta in so far as it relates to the providential designs of God and poet. The ending of Troilus and Criseyde shows Chaucer experimenting with an authorial role that explicitly parallels that of the divine creator.”

Antonella Doninelli Parisoli, The Medieval Review (2009): “Richard Utz’s essay about alternative worlds in medieval literary discourse has a very interesting philosophical perspective. He focuses his attention mainly on Chaucer’s work entitled Troilus and Criseyde. Utz proposes to read this Chaucer work as the reproduction by the author of God’s potentia absoluta, that is the simultaneous presence of alternatives which are only under the author’s control. Utz, following other scholars, shows the influence that the Nominalist school had on Chaucer’s works, although the view according to which a thinker who exalts God’s omnipotence (potentia absoluta) has to be qualified as “nominalist” rather that “realist” or “hyper realist,” it is not commonly accepted. For example one could take a look at Luca Parisoli’s books on John Duns Scotus–who was probably the most important defender of God’s omnipotence–(La Philosophie Normative de Jean Duns Scot, Istituto Storico dei Cappuccini, Roma 2001, La Contraddizione Vera, Istituto Storico dei Cappuccini, 2005).”