Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2012

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

English Literature

First Advisor

Cord Whitaker


Using Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, this paper seeks to demonstrate how language affects the social construction of identity in literature within the late Middle Ages. To accomplish this it looks at how characters (particularly those in the Reeve's and Miller's Tales) attempt to give themselves greater authority over their peers in instances of social conflict by either changing their dialect or, by using terminology borrowed from power-imbued languages like French and Latin. The paper also discusses changes in authority outside the literature by examining the impact of scribal idiolect on the presentation and perception of Chaucer's individual characters.