Gower Bibliography

The Articulate Citizen and the English Renaissance

Ferguson, A. B. "The Articulate Citizen and the English Renaissance." Durham: Duke UP, 1965

Review

While Ferguson's study of civic consciousness is primarily about the early Renaissance (pp. 133-397), the early chapters deal with the medieval background. Ferguson singles out Langland and Gower as important figures in "the first important period in the history of English public discussion" (4). During this period (1360-1415), a new form of public discourse emerged from pure propaganda and from the more generalized complaint literature. Yet while Gower and others show an increasing sense of national identity and eagerly critiqued social maladies, their analysis of social ills generally stops short of actually providing "constructive policies" (42) for fixing the problems. Rather than suggesting systemic reform, Gower and his contemporaries tend to point to the need for personal moral reform (47). Only occasionally – as when Gower deals with the topic of justice – do we see "some awareness of the complexity of social relationships" (53). Otherwise, Gower's solution is to point out the king's need for good counsel and to focus on individual vices (especially sloth and avarice; 57). Gower in fact "failed to think in terms of institutions, much less of constitutions" (62). While Gower's writings become increasingly more political over time, he fails to provide a fully-fledged analysis of the root causes of such issues as the labour crisis, the problem of maintenance, and the war with France. [CvD]

Item Type:Book
Subjects:Backgrounds and General Studies
Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l’Omme (Speculum Meditantis)

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