Gower Bibliography

Chaucer by Default? Difficult Choices and Teaching the Sophomore British Literature Survey

Chewning, Susannah M. "Chaucer by Default? Difficult Choices and Teaching the Sophomore British Literature Survey." 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. 188-93. ISBN 9781603290999

Review

"This essay considers teaching Gower in a sophomore-level British literature survey class, a class wherein Gower is often not taught but his contemporary, Chaucer, usually is" (188). Chewning describes the evolution of her own survey course over the years. Within the last decade, she has "come to a solution on the matter of Chaucer and Shakespeare that serves as a compromise between my need to raise the bar for my students so they are reading Middle and early Modern English at a high level of competence (high enough for sophomores) and their need for works that are accessible, interesting, and readable" (189-90). Her course now includes "a list of required readings and three categories of options, or 'threads,' for students to continue their reading beyond the minimum requirements. The threads are loosely based on spirituality, love and marriage, and politics" (190). Chewning has "made Gower the central Middle English assignment in [her] British literature survey, and most of Chaucer's texts that are included in other survey classes are now optional" (191). She states her rationale for the change, describes the Gower selections she uses, and how she incorporates the optional works, including excerpts from Chaucer, in the course. Of further note, in this new course she teaches Shakespeare's "Richard II" and ties the discussion back to the earlier consideration of the fourteenth century and the Ricardian court. [Kurt Olsson. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 31.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Backgrounds and General Studies

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