Who says a PhD in English isn’t useful?

From The Mail in the Jan. 18, 2010 New Yorker:

As a long-time Chaucer scholar, I was delighted by Joan Acocella’s appreciation of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and her review of a new translation (Books, December 21st & 28th). However, the Miller’s Tale does not describe “an act of involuntary cunnilingus.” Acocella may read the event the way she does because Chaucer tells us that, upon kissing Alison, Absolon felt something like a beard. However, Chaucer is very specific about the placement of the kiss: he “kiste hir naked ers” (i.e. kissed her naked ass). He had other words to use for naming her sexual organ, including “queynte,” “bele chose,” “quoniam,” and “chambre of Venus” (all used by the Wife of Bath).

Saul Brody
Professor Emeritus of English
The City College of New York
New York City

English Literature FTW!

2 thoughts on “Who says a PhD in English isn’t useful?

  1. lol. I saw that too. And having just come back from the Georgia O’Keefe show at the Whitney, I can attest that, from the nude photos of her taken by Steiglitz, Chaucer is quite plausible! Absolon’s lady love must have been similarly decorated.

  2. Okay, I don’t wanna rain on anybody’s parades, but don’t critiques of Chaucer critiques fall firmly within the category of traditionally accepted uses of an English degree? (Right now, I’m using my BA to critique a critique of a critique of a Chaucer critique.)

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