Gower Bibliography

Kalendes of chaunge: Thinking Through Change in Middle English Poetry

Barbaccia, Holly G.. "Kalendes of chaunge: Thinking Through Change in Middle English Poetry." PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 2005.


“The middle ages, so often assumed to be an epoch of orderly, hierarchical stability, is continuously fascinated or dismayed by the prospect and spectacle of change. My dissertation surveys representations of chaunge and eschaunge (interchangeable terms in Middle English) in fourteenth and fifteenth-century literature in order to arrive at a better understanding of how medieval authors struggled with the subjects of transformation and substitution, and what that struggle tells us about those authors, and about Middle English poetry. It transpires that the Middle English poetry paying most attention to chaunge and eschaunge attaches the language and imagery of transformation and substitution to female figures. My study investigates the most important of these figures and representative practices as they evolve in late fourteenth-century England, within the context of the literary exchanges and social changes of the Hundred Years War. Langland's Lady Meed and Gower's Constance, Chaucer's Criseyde, and the Gawain-poet's Lady Bertilak work differently to different ends, effecting change in masculine narrators and protagonists that excites outrage, astonishment, and admiration. . . . The figures and texts I study speak to complex concerns and questions for the Middle Ages: chaunge and eschaunge reveal the instability of the world, and are in turn used to theorize the ways instability itself might provide or deny us access to stable meaning. My aim is to show that what for moderns might seem trite or clichéd formulae, such as Lady Fortune and her wheel, might (as great poetry) speak powerfully to our deepest concerns: what happens next? What is happening to me?

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International 66.6 (2005): 2205A.
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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