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Bringing Chaucer to life in Wisconsin

October 22, 2012

Associate English Professor Francesca Abbate’s new book of poetry is a retelling of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyd—but set in south-central Wisconsin. Troy, Unincorporated was recently released by The University of Chicago Press’ Phoenix Poets series, and a public reading and reception to celebrate it will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the courtyard of the Wright Museum of Art.

The inspiration for Troy, Unincorporated came from a Chaucer class Abbate'90 took in graduate school. She found his tragic poem, Troilus and Criseyde, to be a classic “boy meets girl, boy loses girl” story filled with compelling characters. Though Chaucer’s story is set against the backdrop of the battle of Troy, Abbate decided to tell her version among the industrialized farmlands, strip malls, and half-tenanted “historic” downtowns of south-central Wisconsin, including the real, and literally unincorporated, town of Troy.  

 “It might be helpful to know a little bit about Chaucer’s story, but it’s certainly not necessary,” said Abbate'90. “Chaucer’s story is a pretty simple love story, and my book is also at heart a story about love and betrayal. And obviously the setting will be familiar to people who live in Wisconsin and northern Illinois. I hope it might inspire people to read Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.”

For more information on Troy, Unincorporated, click here