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Reading By Said's Lantern: Orientalism and Chaucer's Treatise On the Astrolabe

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This paper takes Edward Said's foundational critique of western discourses of knowledge about the orient as a way of intervening in the tradition of reading Chaucer's only scientific text, The Treatise on the Astrolabe. I argue for recognizing the "color" of Chaucer's originary text of "Messahala, an Arabian astronomer, by religion a Jew", and against naturalizing the Treatise as an "unmarked white" text. My argument is that there are cultural and political values at stake in Chaucer's pedagogical text.

Affiliations: 1: Univcrsity of Tasmania


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