By Diane Watt
"Moral Gower" he used to be referred to as via buddy and someday rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been considered as an simple research of the universe, combining erotic narratives with moral counsel and political remark. Diane Watt deals the 1st sustained examining of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular textual content bargains no genuine recommendations to the moral difficulties it raises-and in truth actively encourages "perverse" readings. Drawing on a mixture of queer and feminist concept, moral feedback, and psychoanalytic, historicist, and textual feedback, Watt makes a speciality of the language, intercourse, and politics in Gower's writing. How, she asks, is Gower's Confessio regarding modern controversies over vernacular translation and debates approximately language politics? How is Gower's therapy of rhetoric and language gendered and sexualized, and what bearing does this have at the moral and political constitution of the textual content? what's the dating among the erotic, moral, and political sections of Confessio Amantis? Watt demonstrates that Gower engaged within the kind of serious pondering quite often linked to Chaucer and William Langland even as that she contributes to trendy debates concerning the ethics of feedback. Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English on the collage of Wales, Aberystwyth.
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Extra info for Amoral Gower: Language, Sex, and Politics
What text(s) are we reading? Whose text is it anyway? Is the text the author’s or the reader’s (editor’s), both or neither? And following Echard’s lead, I suggest that it is not only the textual history of Confessio Amantis but the poem itself, with all its multivalency and tensions, that invites these questions. Like the study of any medieval text, modern scholarship on Confessio Amantis depends upon and could not exist without editorial and bibliographical research. Such research not only provides us with a text to work with, but also gives us essential information about the production, circulation, and reception of that text from its inception to the present day.
In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the nation was expanding its intellectual horizons. New forms of knowledge were manifested in the emergence of vernacular theology, and they resulted in anxieties that centered on the dangers of making certain forms of learning accessible to a lay readership. The Oxford debate on Bible translation (1401–ca. 1407) provides one context for Gower’s writing. 26 Gower was writing before the Oxford translation debate. 28 In his Prologue and elsewhere, he claims that his text serves a didactic function (instructing the king and his advisers, the clergy, and the commons).
Let me, In Hengist’s tongue, in Brut’s isle sung, With Carmen’s help, tell forth my English verse. a–f) In these lines Gower implicitly likens his own role as poet to the status of the vernacular as the language of poetry. Both, it seems, have similar limitations, and English, he suggests, cannot stand on its own: it requires the support of the Latin verses and glosses that he includes in the work as a whole. 2 The inference we are forced to draw from the parallel between author and vernacular is that the English language has greater potential than the poet is willing to admit openly.
Amoral Gower: Language, Sex, and Politics by Diane Watt