Gower Bibliography

John Gower, the Confessio Amantis, and the Rhetoric of Omission

Barrington, Candace. "John Gower, the Confessio Amantis, and the Rhetoric of Omission." PhD thesis, Duke University, 1998.


“My dissertation uses John Gower's widely-circulated trilogy to illuminate the role of legal discourse in the developing vernacular literatures of late-fourteenth-century England. By looking beyond the veneer of flatness and conventionality, which has often misled his twentieth-century readers, I demonstrate how Gower's poetry textualizes literary and cultural struggles in Ricardian England, where his social position was particularly vexed. Though not firmly ensconced in the aristocracy, as a man-of-law he belonged to that group of gentry serving the landholding classes and those whose interests were intimately tied to the hegemonic ideals. His role as the nobility's advocate shapes his major works: the Anglo-Norman Mirour de l'Homme, the Latin Vox Clamantis, and the English Confessio Amantis and In Praise of Peace. A careful examination of these poems reveals them to be a fascinating marketplace of competing voices, which Gower attempts to regulate using the principles of legal rhetoric. So effective is his regulation that critics have often assumed that the dominant voice both controls the poems' hermeneutics and eliminates all discord. By examining his social location, his legal career, and the literary traditions informing his major Anglo-Norman, Latin and English poems, I argue that his control is not absolute. Instead, the poems inadvertently expose the frailty of the aristocratic ideology they seek to defend.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International 60 (1999): 121A.
Subjects:In Praise of Peace
Vox Clamantis
Biography of Gower
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata