Historians on John Gower
Title Details

580 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

10 colour. 11 b/w. 3 line. Illustrations

Series: Publications of the John Gower Society

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

Historians on John Gower

Edited by Stephen Rigby

With Sian Echard

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
John Gower's poetry offers an important and immediate response to the turbulent events of his day. The essays here examine his life and his works from an historical angle, bringing out fresh new insights.
The late fourteenth century was the age of the Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, the Hundred Years War, the deposition of Richard II, the papal schism and the emergence of the heretical doctrines of John Wyclif and the Lollards. These social, political and religious crises and conflicts were addressed not only by preachers and by those involved in public affairs but also by poets, including Chaucer and Langland. Above all, though, it is in the verse of John Gower that we find the most direct engagement with contemporary events. Yet, surprisingly, few historians have examined Gower's responses to these events or have studied the broader moral and philosophical outlook which he used to make sense of them.

Here, a number of eminent medievalists seek to demonstrate what historians can add to our understanding of Gower's poetry and his ideas about society (the nobility and chivalry, the peasants and the 1381 revolt, urban life and the law), the Church (the clergy, papacy, Lollardy, monasticism, and the friars) gender (masculinity and women and power), politics (political theory and the deposition of Richard II) and science and astronomy. The book also offers an important reassessment of Gower's biography based on newly-discovered primary sources.

STEPHEN RIGBY is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Social and Economic History at the University of Manchester; SIAN ECHARD is Professor of English, University of British Columbia.

Contributors: Mark Bailey, Michael Bennett, Martha Carlin, James Davis, Seb Falk, Christopher Fletcher, David Green, David Lepine, Martin Heale, Katherine Lewis, Anthony Musson, Stephen Rigby, Jens Röhrkasten.
Preface: Gower in Context - Sian Echard and Stephen Rigby
Chronology of Gower's Life Records - Martha Carlin
Gower's Life - Martha Carlin
Gower's Works - Stephen Rigby
Nobility and Chivalry - David Green
The Peasants and the Great Revolt - Mark Bailey
Towns and Trade - James Davis
Men of Law - Anthony Musson
The Papacy, Secular Clergy and Lollardy - David N Lepine
Monastic Life - Martin Heale
The Friars - Jens U. Rohrkasten
Women and Power - Katherine J. Lewis
Masculinity - Christopher Fletcher
Political Theory - Stephen Rigby
Gower, Richard II and Henry IV - Michael J Bennett
Natural Sciences - Seb Falk
Select Bibliography
"A rich and substantial addition not only to Gower scholarship but also to our knowledge of late fourteenth-century England." SEHEPUNKTE
"Historians on John Gower provides a superb reassessment of how Gower's work might be read in its historical context." REVIEW OF ENGLISH STUDIES
"These original and focused essays will be of great interest to both students and scholars of Gower." MEDIUM AEVUM
"[T]his is an impressive collection that contributes substantially to Gower studies, and to our understanding of the historical contexts for much late medieval English literature generally." SPECULUM
"The fourteen essays (plus a calendar of life records) are informed by consistent awareness of parallels between Gower's works, on the one hand, and chronicles and documentary records on the other, accompanied by careful attention to previous scholarship, judicious cross-referencing between the essays, a comprehensive index, and illustrative figures in color and black and white. The John Gower that emerges from the essays is not an unfamiliar one-a traditionalist moral poet-but one that is more nuanced and more ambivalent in his outlooks, perhaps, than is usually observed." JOHN GOWER NEWSLETTER
"Historians on John Gower [...] is a major contribution to Gower studies as well as to researchers interested in the pivotal historical moment in which the poet lived and worked. This is a collection that brings "imaginative literature" together with historical documentation to provide a more comprehensive view of one of the most important public voices of the time." STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER
"It is not an exaggeration to say that this will immediately be a requisite volume for anyone working on Gower. [...] [I]t provides such rich ground to explore." THE YEARBOOK OF LANGLAND STUDIES
"Historians on John Gower, a large, sturdy, and often foundational (or, at times, re-foundational) set of essays on Gower's life, works, contexts, and outlooks demonstrates many of the virtues of the disciplinary crossover into "history" that literary scholars often invite or instigate but that rarely come from the other side. [...] The results here are excellent." Journal of British Studies

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9781843845379

September 2019

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Title Details

580 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

10 colour. 11 b/w. 3 line. Illustrations

Series: Publications of the John Gower Society

Imprint: D.S.Brewer