Mar. 1: Dinshaw, “‘Glose Bele Chose’: The Wife of Bath and Her Glossators”

How does what Dinshaw describes of the way medieval glossing worked help her to interpret the Wife of Bath’s performance in the Prologue? What is the interpretation Dinshaw comes up with as a result?

3 thoughts on “Mar. 1: Dinshaw, “‘Glose Bele Chose’: The Wife of Bath and Her Glossators”

  1. Dinshaw describes the medieval act of glossing as done by clerks as moving past the literal body of the text in order to discover its spiritual truth. In her prologue, the Wife of Bath argues against glossing as she defends her “feminine desire” by making several references to the Bible that do not explicitly state how many marriages one is supposed to have. Dinshaw states that glossing is a masculine act of reading the text that is intended to repel the feminine body and the literalness of a text – which Dinshaw states is consistently described in feminine terms. As a rebut to this, the Wife of Bath describes herself in terms that promote her sexual desire and feminine power. It is interesting that Dinshaw states that, even though her intention was to argue against glossators, the Wife of Bath ends up glossing herself when she poses questions to her audience.

  2. Dinshaw describes glossing in the Middle Ages in relation to the Bible. She addresses the fact that there was a lot of criticism to glossing because it often would be longer than the text itself. It also contained a lot of opinion from the glosser. Glossing became so popular that there were glosses of glosses. Glossing also narrows interpretation to one accurate interpretation in most cases. Dinshaw states that “[t]he Wife suggests that the appropriative nature of glossing has a particularly masculine valence” (pp. 123). This idea leads to the connection between her argument on femininity and masculinity and glossing and the text. Dinshaw argues that Chaucer is using the Wife of Bath to meet the middle ground of glossing and the text. Dinshaw believes the Wife doesn’t necessarily rebuke glossing, but she does point out the importance of the text. Like she reworks the feminine in terms of patriarchal values, she also reworks the text in a world full of glossing.

  3. Dinshaw claims that the Wife of Bath opposed herself to glosses, which she explains were related to biblical truths and inherently masculine. She does so by making her autonomous desire the theme of her performance even though she is simultaneously conforming to the desires of men in possession of her (114). In doing so, the Wife brings direct attention to the glossing of the text and positions herself within them.

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