"A Pregnant Argument": Bodies and Literacies in Dante's "Comedy," Chaucer's "Troilus," and Henryson's "Testament."

Author/Editor
Shoaf, R. Allen.

Title
"A Pregnant Argument": Bodies and Literacies in Dante's "Comedy," Chaucer's "Troilus," and Henryson's "Testament."

Published
Shoaf, R. Allen. "'A Pregnant Argument': Bodies and Literacies in Dante's Comedy, Chaucer's Troilus, and Henryson's Testament." In Nicole Nyffenegger and Katrin Rupp, eds. Fleshly Things and Spiritual Matters: Studies on the Medieval Body in Honour of Margaret Bridges. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2011. Pp. 193–208. ISBN: 9781443827393.

Review
Shoaf argues for the need to expand critical notions of gendered "literacies," ranging widely in order to demonstrate how Dante, Chaucer, and Robert Henryson use various kinds of verbal play to explore expansions and contractions in literature and literacy, particularly focusing on Chaucer's allusion to Pyramus and Thisbe in "Troilus and Criseyde" (4.1247-48). In an aside that explores the meaning of the allusion in Chaucer. Shoaf includes discussion (pp. 195-97) of Gower's account of Pyramus and Thisbe (CA 3.1331-1502), observing in it punning play upon "contek" as a subset of anger and as the contact impossible for the lovers because of their dividing wall: "The impetuosity of the two lovers is the 'contek' that prevents their contact" (196). Like Ovid, Shoaf tells us, Gower explores the "necessity of walls" insofar as they provoke and restrict communication: without walls, communication paradoxically ends in self-destruction. [MA.]

Date
2011

Gower Subjects
Confessio Amantis
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations
Style and Versification