Gower Bibliography

Unconfessing Transgender: Dysphoric Youths and the Medicalization of Madness in John Gower's 'Tale of Iphis and Ianthe'

Bychowski, M. W. "Unconfessing Transgender: Dysphoric Youths and the Medicalization of Madness in John Gower's 'Tale of Iphis and Ianthe'." Accessus: A Journal of Premodern Literature and New Media 3 (2016), n.p.

Review

Bychowski's focus is on the "Tale of Iphis and Ianthe," in Book IV of the CA, on Sloth. Gower's presentation of Iphis' transformation from a girl dressed as a boy into a man by the God of Love within the "hermeneutic of the seven deadly sins" is, as "medieval disability scholars have demonstrated," predictable, and fully within the accepted approach current in the late Middle Ages, when "religion and medicine were so intertwined as to be inseparable, especially in cases such as the management of sloth, where the symptoms of depression, despair, and sluggishness spanned the categorizes [sic] of physical and spiritual disease." In a three-part essay, Bychowski considers 1) "'Divisioun and Dysphoria' to establish how Gower prefigures the modern social model of transgender as an experience of living in a world full of change and contradiction"; 2) "the particular social forms of 'divisioun' identified as 'Acedia and Depression'" as signaling "Gower's discussion of the sin of sloth that frames the 'Tale of Iphis and Ianthe';" 3) "how Gower's removal of the dysphoric youth's voice and agency in the tale emphasizes the systematic character of suffering caused by a dysphoric Nature (represented by Isis) and a subjugating patriarchal Nature (represented by Eros)." [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 35.2]

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Confessio Amantis

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