Loving Confession in the "Confessio Amantis."

Baktie, Stephanie L.

Loving Confession in the "Confessio Amantis."

Batkie, Stephanie L., "Loving Confession in the' Confessio Amantis'." Studies in the Age of Chaucer 39 (2017): 99-128.

Batkie analyzes the "ambiguous" nexus of the two principle threads running through the CA--love and confession--to argue that Gower's text confounds any critical reconciliation between them. Gower's formulation of the "unstable" yet "generative" nexus between love and confession intervenes into Foucault's understanding of medieval confession and sexuality. Foucault's formulation of subjectivity is dependent upon the erasure and forgetting of the self. In contrast, Gower's MO shows confessional subjectivity arising from an act of narration that produces confessional history--orienting the subject within time, relative to a revised (because confessed) past and an anticipated salvific future. In short, the confessing subject is established via the creation of its history. Batkie cannily illustrates how Amans's confessional activity takes up memory, forgetting, and history in generative but unstable ways. Amans's agency (to narrate, remember, forget) and his desire (for the beloved, for absolution) both produce and trouble him as subject. Gower forges a chiasmatic relationship between confession and love in which Amans's particular failures as a lover "can only become generative as a confessional exemplum" as Amans reads his inability to express his present desire in the amorous past" via his "remembered desire in the confessional present." His failures in love, in other words, become confessional successes, although amorous confession also leaves him "without history"--he does not formulate a confessional subjectivity embedded in a narrated past and an anticipated future. Rather, Amans's confessed narrative "cannot extend past [himself], or past the present tense." Even as narratives of love point only to the past, desire, through the confessional process, "is summonded, named, and extended." [EH-R. Copyright. John Gower Society. eJGN 39.1].


Gower Subjects
Confessio Amantis
Mirour de l'Omme (Speculum Meditantis)