Approaches to Teaching the Poetry of John Gower
A poet who wrote fluently in Middle English, Anglo-French, and Latin, John Gower typifies the English Middle Ages. His economical and sober style, the topics he addressed—marriage, love, chivalry, social class, law, and religious faith—and the depth and breadth of his references to earlier literature, myth, and folktale made his work attractive not only to contemporaries such as Chaucer but also to later poets such as Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton. Gower is increasingly acknowledged as a poet whose texts offer unique opportunities to teachers wishing to introduce their students to the riches of medieval literature and culture.
The essays in part 1, "Materials," review the available editions and translations of Gower's works, compile useful electronic resources for teaching, and discuss the sources and analogues and critical work on his canon. In part 2, "Approaches," contributors make recommendations for teaching the historical context of Gower's writing, involving topics from estates theory and law to confession and medicine; for examining his language and rhetoric in the classroom, including reading his work aloud; and for studying his works in various theoretical and comparative ways, with a special focus on his relation to classical as well as other Middle English authors. A final section considers the various classroom contexts in which Gower is taught, from community college to graduate school.
About the Authors
R. F. Yeager is professor of English and chair of the Department of English and Foreign Languages at the University of West Florida. He has written and edited on Gower, Chaucer, and Old and Middle English literatures and has translated Gower's shorter Latin Poetry, the Traitié pour essampler les amantz marietz and the Cinkante balades, both for TEAMS. He is president of the International John Gower Society and edits the John Gower Newsletter.
Brian W. Gastle is the department head and associate dean of the graduate school and associate professor of English at Western Carolina University, where he teaches both medieval literature and professional / technical / Web writing. He has published on Gower, Chaucer, Margerey Kempe, and the Pastons, and he has prepared print, online, and multimedia pedagogical materials for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and PBS. He serves as the Web master for the International John Gower Society.
"The essays are clearly written and, because of their range, contain something of interest to any instructor, whether one at a community college or at a major research institution, whether one interested in traditional literary criticism or its more recent manifestations." —Tim William Machan, Marquette University
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