Accessus

http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/accessus/

List of Papers (Total 23)

The Failure of Counsel: Curial Corruption in Book VI of the Vox Clamantis

The king's court is the final element in Gower's analysis of the law in Book VI of the Vox Clamantis prior to the speculum principis that is the book's climax. Having discussed the men of law, judges, sheriffs, jurors, and bailiffs in chapters one through six, the poet now finds fault in chapter seven with the various advisers who surround the king for the purpose of providing...

Reflection, Interrupted: Material Mirror Work in the Confessio Amantis

The Confessio Amantis concludes with a revelatory scene in which Venus holds up a mirror to Amans, allowing him to recognize John Gower the poet— a moment that is often read as a mimetic and healing counterpoint to the Confessio’s sickness and self-questioning. My intention in this paper is to very slightly modify certain aspects of this narrative, to consider how the materiality...

“Nede hath no law”: The State of Exception in Gower and Langland

This article discusses the use of the legal maxim necessity knows no law in the works of William Langland and John Gower. Whereas Langland’s usage has stirred up great controversy, Gower’s unique application of the canon law adage has received hardly any attention. On the surface, it is difficult to think of two authors less alike, and the way in which they relate the concept of...

How the Axe Falls: A Retrospective on Thirty-five Years of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Performance

This retrospective represents a new approach to using historical performance as a tool for understanding medieval narrative performance. The core of the article traces how an individual performer’s interaction with a stable medieval text both indicates directions medieval performers may have taken and suggests the limitations imposed by modern performance conventions. The...

Semper Venalis: Gower's Avaricious Lawyers

The first three chapters of the sixth book of the Vox Clamantis (lines 1-248) comprise a harsh critique of the many avaricious lawyers who, in Gower’s opinion, have come to dominate their profession to the disadvantage of English society in the late fourteenth century. Driven exclusively by their appetite for possessions, they have forgotten the biblical model presented in Psalm...

Civility and Gower's "Visio Anglie"

Deploying conventions from medieval courtesy manuals, Gower’s Visio Anglie assigned varied degrees of authority to Englishmen and women at the bodily level, a system of signification in which food, physical appearances, and overall comportment were key elements. Echoing courtesy manuals, the Visio constructed corporal marks of distinction, interpreted physical signifiers as...

The Trentham Manuscript as Broken Prosthesis: Wholeness and Disability in Lancastrian England

Gower’s Trentham manuscript allows us to think about pre-modern disabilities in three ways. First, because it encourages Henry IV to restore the body politic disabled by Richard II, we can see the manuscript as presenting itself as a prosthesis able to compensate, even cure, Henry’s illegitimate claims to the throne. Here, disability is a condition that needs to be eradicated at...

Blindness, Confession, and Re-membering in Gower's Confessio

Much scholarship on Gower’s Confessio Amantis has focused on the poem’s assertion that poetic narration, represented by Amans’ ongoing confession, has the ability to restore the fragmentary natures of social and spiritual bodies. Surprisingly, the role that the (dis)abled body plays in the poem’s struggle with fragmentation and integration has been ignored. By focusing on the...

Blind Advocacy: Blind Readers, Disability Theory, and Accessing John Gower

Toward the end of his life, medieval poet John Gower (d. 1408) composed Latin poetry about his own progressive blindness, and later nineteenth-century Blind readers appropriated Gower’s work as part of a platform to advocate for changed perceptions and opportunities for the blind and other people with disabilities. In this essay, I approach nineteenth-century narrative...