Gower Bibliography

Polyglot poetics: Merchants and literary production in London, 1300—1500

Hsy, Jonathan Horng. "Polyglot poetics: Merchants and literary production in London, 1300—1500." PhD thesis, The University of Pennsylvnia, 2007.


"This dissertation investigates the reciprocal relationship between merchants and poets within late-medieval London's multilingual trade network. While modern scholars have tended to place them in different social spheres, merchants and poets shared a working knowledge of English, French and Latin, and I argue that they engaged in mutually informing types of textual production. Juxtaposing literary works by Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, Charles d'Orléans, and William Caxton with account books, civic documents, and bilingual phrasebooks, I identify points of contact between the city's mercantile and literary cultures. For example, poets imported merchant jargon from different languages into romance and lyric texts, and merchants incorporated poetic devices into their guild records and personal inventories. By examining the writings of literary figures alongside non-literary ones, I demonstrate how social spheres overlapped and shaped one another in the city. Most importantly, I contend that multilingual medieval writing plays a crucial role in English literary history. By approaching trilingual poets like Gower and even the most canonical of single-language authors like Chaucer as multilingual individuals with diverse influences, I reveal how the category of the secular, professional writer was articulated--perhaps even invented--in this period. Rather than identifying as French-speaking courtly lovers or as learned Latinate clerics, middling urbanites crafted hybrid personas that adapted traditions from many languages." A final chapter discusses The Book of Margery Kempe. Directed by David Wallace.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International A68.07 (2008)
Subjects:Language and Word Studies

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