Gower Bibliography

Teaching Gower in the Medieval Survey Class: Historical and Cultural Contexts and the Court of Richard II

Passmore, S. Elizabeth. "Teaching Gower in the Medieval Survey Class: Historical and Cultural Contexts and the Court of Richard II." 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. 194-201. ISBN 9781603290999


Passmore describes the evolution of this medieval survey, which was a new course, and her thoughts in retrospect on revisions to improve it. The course included a generous selection from Gower's "Confessio Amantis." The class met in weekly three-hour evening blocks over a 16-week semester, and four of these sessions were devoted to Gower. As part of their course assignments, over the semester students read a chapter a week from Nigel Saul's "Richard II." That reading increased in relevance as students began to see connections, as when they read Gower's account in the first recension of the "Confessio" of meeting Richard on the Thames. While the historical context remains important, Passmore is considering replacing assignments in Saul, a book that many students found "disjointed and confusing" (196), with multiple articles, chapters of books, or possibly even "Who Murdered Chaucer?," a book that "worked fabulously" (196) in her Chaucer class and she thinks would be an "invaluable . . . tool for discussion" (197) in the survey. Also looking for better ways to help students read Middle English--another challenge in the course--she describes in this essay several additional techniques she is considering incorporating in the next syllabus. On a similar note, in the first version of the course she had assigned the single-volume MART edition of the "Confessio," in part because of its coverage: it allowed her to include the entire Prologue, selections from Books 1, 3, and 4, and all of Book 7, a significant amount in a survey. But she found that the lack of "an overall glossary," and "the skimpy on-page glosses" (199) made reading the Middle English from this edition too great a challenge for students. She has therefore decided to shift to volume 1 of the TEAMS edition, supplementing it, as necessary, with the rest of the poem in the online version. She concludes her essay by describing and providing the rationale for her research and writing assignments. [Kurt Olsson. Copyright. The John Gower Society. JGN 31.1]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Facsimiles, Editions, and Translations
Confessio Amantis

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