Gower Bibliography

Sentenced to hard labor: Vernacular transformations in the late fourteenth century.

Batkie, Stephanie L. "Sentenced to hard labor: Vernacular transformations in the late fourteenth century." PhD thesis, University of Michigan, 2009.


“This project re-characterizes the development of vernacular readership in late fourteenth century England. It offers a fresh heuristic for recognizing vernacular works that ostensibly limit their potential audiences through the use of recondite, Latinate, and otherwise hermetic discourses while, at the same time, making the labored interpretation performed by those readers the center of its textual purpose. It focuses on two poems, William Langland's 'Piers Plowman' and John Gower's 'Confessio Amantis,' as examples of texts that are neither open nor easy--on the contrary, they are deliberately difficult. Through them it examines the relationship between vernacular difficulty, laborious reading, and readerly transformation in the context of late medieval devotional culture. Each chapter pairs one aspect of the text with an external, Latinate discourse in order to explore the ways in which the author adapts and re-calibrates it for the purposes of establishing a new form of vernacular reading. . . . Turning to Gower, the third chapter discusses the presentation of alchemy in the poem as an idealized form of interpretive labor that is simultaneously offered as a model for reading and rejected as a physical and textual practice. The final chapter examines the problem of producing accurate and effective language through vernacular confessional discourse in the 'Confessio.' Each transmuted discourse contributes to the 'hermeneutic narrative,' or the interpretive path readers generate as they work their way through the texts. The dissertation shows that the historical importance of these poems lies in their open commitment to the construction of this hermeneutic narrative, while their critical usefulness lies in their ability to highlight similar questions in other contemporary texts.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:DAI-A 71/02 (2010)
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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