Gower Bibliography

Gender, Sexuality, and Family Ties in the 'Confessio Amantis'

Bullón-Fernández, María. "Gender, Sexuality, and Family Ties in the 'Confessio Amantis'." In Approaches to Teaching the Poetry of John Gower. Ed. Yeager, R. F., and Gastle, Brian W. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2011, pp. 119-26. ISBN 9781603290999

Review

Bullón-Fernández describes the syllabi of two courses, the one a senior-level course (which she has already offered) on medieval sexualities; the other a junior-level course (which she has planned) on family ties in medieval literature. Neither course focuses exclusively on Gower, but tales from the "Confessio Amantis" are prominent in each. The first course emphasizes theory. A unit on sex and gender opens with readings from Toril Moi and Judith Butler, and examines Gower's tales of the False Bachelor, Eneas and Dido, Ulysses and Penelope, and Florent, as well as Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale. The second unit, on heterosexual desires, is divided into three sections: virginity, sex and marriage, and heterosexual perversions (i.e., rape and incest). Readings in this part of the course include works by Gayle Rubin, Butler again, and Ruth Mazo Karras, and the literature features tales by Gower and Chaucer, many of them parallel stories (some now drawn from Chaucer's "Legend of Good Women"). The third unit focuses on homosexual desires. Readings in theory are taken from Butler, Michel Foucault, and Carla Freccero, and literary texts include Heldris de Cornuälle's "Roman de Silence" and materials from the case of John Rykener, a male transvestite prostitute in fourteenth-century London, as well as Chaucer's Miller's Tale and Gower's tales of Iphis and Achilles in Book 4 of the "Confessio." The proposed 300-level course, on Family Ties in Medieval Literature, does not emphasize readings in theory, but does take a (new) historical and anthropological approach to the subject and still includes extensive background reading. Again, Gower and Chaucer are the dominant literary figures studied. The course has units on husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings, and a fourth one called "beyond the biological family" (e.g., sworn brotherhood). Gower is represented in the first unit by his "Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz" and the tales of Florent and Ceix and Alceone, the second, on parents and children, by his tales of Apollonius, Constance, Virginia, Achilles, and Orestes, the third, on siblings, by stories of Canace and Machaire, and Tereus, Philomene, and Progne. The last unit, on sworn brotherhood, features "Amis and Amiloun." All of these units are enriched by the comparisons with others, not only Chaucer, but also writers such as Chretien de Troyes. [Kurt Olsson. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 31.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Traité pour Essampler les Amants Marietz
Confessio Amantis

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