Gower Bibliography

Feminized counsel: Representations of women and advice to princes in late medieval England

Schieberle, Misty Yvonne. "Feminized counsel: Representations of women and advice to princes in late medieval England." PhD thesis, University of Notre Dame, 2008.

Review

"Even as the representation of women by medieval poets has been extensively studied, scholars have yet to explore how images of women have informed images of political counsel. In this study, I forge a connection between the "mirrors for princes" genre of advice giving and the subject of women. The connection between women and counsel, I argue, is one that poets found fruitful, vexing, enabling, and troublesome by turns. Following on the work of such scholars as Larry Scanlon, Richard Firth Green, Judith Ferster, David Wallace and Paul Strohm, I examine the major vernacular poetry of the late fourteenth and fifteenth century in light of both the mirrors for princes tradition and historical accounts of counsel. What distinguishes my work from prior scholarship is that I focus specifically on a neglected aspect of the history of counsel: the role of women in literary texts as counselors to kings. I examine selected Middle English works by John Gower, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Stephen Scrope, as well as manuscripts and French sources, in order to evaluate the association of women with political counsel. When authors articulate their instruction through female voices, the process of advice subsequently becomes a feminized one, and the female counselor emerges as a significant literary trope--as an outlet through which male poets articulate challenging political discourse. What this project ultimately demonstrates is that, far from exclusively using women's voices as an 'other' against which to define themselves, late medieval vernacular poets embraced the feminine as both a representation of their own subordination to kings and patrons, and a subject position from which to criticize, advise, and influence those in power. Understanding the poet's conception and development of female counselors is thus essential to understanding his or her own approach to the process of advice and the composing of politically-oriented narratives within the vernacular poetics of the late medieval period." See Schieberle's earlier essay on "'Thing which a man mai noght areche': Women and Counsel in Gower's Confessio Amantis," reviewed in JGN 26 no. 2.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:Dissertation Abstracts International A70.10 (2011)
Subjects:Backgrounds and General Studies

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