Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Remembering the Reader: A Lesson in User-Centered Technical Instruction from Geoffrey Chaucer

Dr. Bonita Cox.

As a work that deals systematically with the facts and principles of a complex scientific instrument, Chaucer's Treatise on the Astrolabe is what today we call a technical document, which makes Chaucer a technical writer. More specifically, as a text that includes a tutorial on how to use the instrument, the Treatise is a User Manual. As everyone knows, Chaucer the poet was a great innovator. This paper will discuss the ways that Chaucer the technical writer was also an innovator: to show how the strategies he employed more than 600 years ago anticipate the guidelines recommended by recent research in cognitive psychology for today's User Manuals to the degree that his fourteenth-century work is as much modern as it is medieval.


Dr. Bonita Cox  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of English and Comparative Literature
San Jose State University

  • Technology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Technical Documentation
Person as Subject
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey Treatise on the Astrolabe

(Virtual Presentation, English)