Book Series Disputatio , vol. 35

John Gower’s Rhetoric

Classical Authority, Biblical Ethos, and Renaissance Receptions

Georgiana Donavin

  • Pages: 450 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:7 b/w, 3 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2022


Pre-order*
  • € 120,00 EXCL. VAT RETAIL PRICE
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-59577-1
  • Hardback
  • Forthcoming (Oct/22)

Forthcoming
  • c. € 120,00 EXCL. VAT RETAIL PRICE


Explores the classical and medieval rhetorical traditions that informed Gower’s craft, the biblical personae through which the poet achieved his rhetorical aims, and the Renaissance publishers, teachers, and authors who valued and imitated his strategies for composition.

BIO

Georgiana Donavin is professor of English at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the author of Incest Narratives and the Structure of Gower’s Confessio Amantis, Scribit Mater: Mary and the Language Arts in the Literature of Medieval England, and several articles on Gower’s poems and medieval rhetoric. She is co-director of The Gower Project, a digital humanities initiative. 

Summary

This is the first book-length study in decades to offer in-depth readings of a variety of late medieval poems across Gower’s trilingual corpus. Identifying Gower’s rhetorical cornerstones in Aristotelian pathos, the theology of the Word, and the execution of a plain style, it provides fresh interpretations of poems in Latin, French, and Middle English that arise from an enhanced understanding of Gower’s literary methods. It explores the classical and medieval rhetorical traditions that informed Gower’s craft, the biblical personae through which the poet achieved his rhetorical aims, and the Renaissance publishers and authors who valued and imitated his strategies for composition. Gower adapted his rhetorical theory from the principles of Aristotelian texts, Augustinian theology, exemplars of Ciceronian style, and the dictates of various artes poetriae; from the latter, John of Garland’s Parisiana Poetria is especially important for outlining practices of Marian rhetoric. Modelling virtuous female speakers on the Virgin and prophetic narrators on John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, Gower gave extra-scriptural voice to members of the extended Holy Family and in so doing, achieved unimpeachable expressions inside classically informed structures of discourse. The epistolary structure, proceeding from Ciceronian rhetoric and the artes dictaminis, is one among Gower’s favoured rhetorical forms for projecting singular voices. His straightforward, reiterative style in Middle English and his virginal speakers compelled Renaissance publisher Thomas Berthelette and celebrated authors Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare to praise Gower’s rhetoric in prefaces and imitate it on the stage.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Illustrations, Acknowledgements, Abbreviations

Introduction

Chapter One. Gower’s ‘Rethorique’

Chapter Two. My Name is John: Biblical Ethos and Apocalyptic Narrative

Chapter Three. Virgo Bona Dicendi Perita: The Good Maiden Speaking Well

Chapter Four. Epistles and Rhetorical Experimentation, Part I: Contexts and Practices

Chapter Five. Epistles and Rhetorical Experimentation, Part II: Music and Letters in the Trentham Manuscript

Chapter Six. The Hortus Conclusus in Gower’s Poems

Coda. Renaissance Receptions of Gowerian Repetitio

Bibliography

Index