Gower Bibliography

Postcolonial/Queer: Teaching Gower Using Recent Critical Theory

Kruger, Steven F. "Postcolonial/Queer: Teaching Gower Using Recent Critical Theory." 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. 127-35. ISBN 9781603290999


Kruger shows how "Gower could play an important role in advanced undergraduate seminars on medieval gender and sexuality or on nation and (post)coloniality" (127). After offering a shortened list of basic theoretical readings for such a course, he identifies sites in Gower's works where theory might be introduced most productively. He arranges his presentation according to a series of topics: 1) Hybridity. Gower's trilingualism, for example, points to "complex power dynamics in play when different cultures and languages come together in colonizing situations" (129). 2) Identity. Gower's "writing constructs a sense of identity, a sense of the subject both as interested and deeply implicated in the historical and [especially in the "Confessio Amantis"] as possessing a complex internal life" (130). 3) Sociality/Sexuality. This ranges from Gower's representation of the "animal-like, hardly human mob" of peasants in the 'Vox' as resonating" with postcolonial critiques of discourses that ontologize natives as less than human" (132) to the poet's placing individuals into social worlds as providing an occasion for questioning, for example male-male cooperation and conflict, or for asking whether there are "spaces (e.g., in the Apollonius story)] where Gower also considers the possibility and implications of female homosociality as an alternative social space" (132). 4) (Trans) Nationalism. England, for Gower, may or may not "correspond to the kind of nation defined in contemporary theoretical formulations" or "bear any of the features, for instance, of [Benedict] Anderson's 'imagined communities" (133). 5) Periodization. "Gower himself consistently uses historical material to think about his contemporary world. Do Gower's reflections help us think about our own contemporary situation?" (134-35) "To what extent [do] the medieval world and modernity in fact stand separate from each other—generally, and more specifically, in relation both to international/(post)colonial relations and to gender/sexuality" (134). [Kurt Olsson. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 31.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Vox Clamantis
Confessio Amantis

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata