The conference titled “In sondry ages and sondry londes“: Global Chaucer in the XXIst Century took place on August 8, 2023, in Hiroshima, Japan. The event was organized under the joint auspices of Hiroshima University, The English Research Association of Hiroshima, and The New Chaucer Society. This international congress aimed to bring together scholars and enthusiasts of Geoffrey Chaucer’s works from various Asian countries to discuss the promotion of medieval studies in non-Anglophone contexts and to explore the global relevance of Chaucer’s writings in the 21st century.
“In sondry ages and sondry londes” was a significant gathering of academics, researchers, and students interested in medieval literature. The organizing committee, consisting of Yoshiyuki Nakao, Osamu Imahayashi, and Jonathan Fruoco, meticulously curated a diverse range of sessions and discussions that delved into the multifaceted dimensions of medieval English literature’s influence across cultures and languages. The conference opened with a warm welcome by the organizers, highlighting the importance of exploring Chaucer’s literary legacy beyond English-speaking regions. The keynote addresses were delivered by Anthony Bale, Stephanie Trigg, and Jonathan Fruoco and provided insightful perspectives on the challenges faced in promoting medieval studies in international and non-Anglophone environments.
The programme also featured a series of panel discussions and paper presentations that explored various themes related to Chaucer’s global presence. Scholars from Japan and China shared their research on topics ranging from problems in manuscripts and early editions of the Canterbury Tales to the translation challenges encountered when bringing his works into different languages. The discussions emphasized the need for creative pedagogical approaches to engage a new generation of readers and scholars in the study of medieval literature.
One particularly engaging panel focused on “A Chaucer Lexicon and a New Access to Chaucer”. Yue Zhou from the National Institute of Technology, Kure College, introduced his innovative use of digital tools and platforms to enhance the accessibility and dissemination of Chaucer’s works across linguistic and geographical boundaries. As Zhou remarks, ‘traditional Chaucer dictionaries provide word-oriented information, providing general definitions and instances of use. Though inclusive, such dictionaries do not offer the reader exhaustive information about a specific narrative or extend more in-depth knowledge about aspects such as lexical sources. This dictionary positions every word within the context of its narratives and analyses the vocabulary through careful textual reading’. The Chaucer Lexicon, a work in progress, can be accessed at chaucerlex.com
The conference also highlighted the collaborative efforts between institutions and organizations to promote medieval English studies globally. Representatives from The New Chaucer Society shared their experiences in fostering international networks and initiatives that encourage cross-cultural engagement with Chaucer’s writings. Jonathan Fruoco and Anthony Bale were then, on the subsequent day, also able to contribute to the 63rd Summer Seminar of the English Research Association of Hiroshima, where Fruoco presented a paper on Chaucer’s Troilus and double enunciation and Bale introduced his work on John Kay’s Siege of Rhodes.
“In sondry ages and sondry londes” proved to be a vibrant platform for scholars to exchange ideas, experiences, and strategies for advancing Chaucer studies beyond English-speaking contexts. The collaborative spirit exhibited throughout the event underscored the importance of embracing Chaucer’s legacy as a global heritage that transcends linguistic and geographical boundaries. The conference gave participants a renewed commitment to nurturing a new generation of readers and scholars who will contribute to the continued enrichment of medieval studies around the world, especially in non-Anglophone contexts.