Gower Bibliography

Inventing womanhood in late medieval literature

Williams, Tara Nicole. "Inventing womanhood in late medieval literature." PhD thesis, Rutgers The State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick, 2004.


“This dissertation uncovers the origins of the word womanhood in the fourteenth-century works of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower. It then traces the evolution of the term and concept through the fifteenth century, combining philology with feminist readings. Although many feminist medieval projects have analyzed female characters, the underlying idea of womanliness has received little attention. I argue that post-plague social and economic shifts created a linguistic gap: new ideas about women's roles necessitated new vocabulary. Chaucer invents several terms to address this gap, including femininity and wifehood, but womanhood becomes particularly significant and its meanings evolve through various late medieval texts. Womanhood does consistently involve two issues: whether it is primarily interior or exterior (and, by extension, whom it includes or excludes) and whether it restricts or enables feminine forms of power. . . . While Chaucer focuses on its internal virtues, Gower imagines womanhood as embodied and performed; Chapter Three explores his divergent usage in the Confessio Amantis.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International 65.11 (2005): 4190A.
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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