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Christine Cooper-Rompato’s Essay in the 'Chaucer Review'

07/22/2020

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Christine Cooper-Rompato’s essay “The Persistence of Chaucer’s Verses on Footwear in the Nineteenth Century” is hot off the press in this summer’s issue of the Chaucer Review. The essay examines a relatively obscure passage from Chaucer’s fourteenth-century translation The Romaunt of the Rose—the passage features a description of some well-fitting shoes that a lover should wear to impress his beloved(s). This passage appeared frequently in articles in nineteenth-century British and U.S. newspapers and other periodicals and reached an extremely wide audience of readers who may not have encountered Chaucer elsewhere. In employing this passage, authors emphasized a particular understanding of Chaucer as a poet and cultural historian who focused on fashion and well-made footwear, as part of an ongoing effort to compare medieval and contemporary practices of manufacturing footwear. This essay therefore examines how nineteenth-century authors and manufacturers turned to Chaucer’s verses on footwear to lend the poet’s authority to their advertisements and to support their claims (as well as complaints) about the contemporary shoe industry.