Gower Bibliography

Vicious praise: Flattery in late medieval English politics and poetry

Walling, Amanda. "Vicious praise: Flattery in late medieval English politics and poetry." PhD thesis, Stanford University, 2007.


"This dissertation argues that late medieval English literature was often forced to define itself against and around the problem of flattery, a notion which was used to encapsulate a wide range of cultural and linguistic corruptions. Flattery presented itself both as a practice--an often necessary means of speaking to patrons and rulers--and as a discourse, a conventional set of complaints about the evils of flattery found in many political, religious, and literary texts. This study examines the intersections between these two modes, as poets and flatterers use warnings against flattery to legitimize its practice, and explores how flattery was used as a figure for usurpation, rhetoric, and interpretation. By examining key texts and contexts from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, I show that the rhetorical paradoxes of flattery were essential to the medieval understanding of selfhood and literary language. My first chapter examines the genre of advice manuals known as mirrors for princes, and shows how John Gower's Confessio Amantis reformulated their discourse of flattery into a literary language addressed to Richard II, who was widely criticized for his susceptibility to flatterers." Other chapters consider Langland's Piers Plowman and the anonymous Mum and the Sothsegger; Chaucer's Melibee, Merchant's Tale, and Nun's Priest's Tale; and Hoccleve's La Male Regle and The Regiment of Princes. Directed by Seth Lerer.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International A68.09 (2008)
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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