Gower and the Forms of History.

Nowlin, Steele.

Gower and the Forms of History.

Nowlin, Steele. "Gower and the Forms of History." In Ana Sáez-Hidalgo, Brian Gastle, and R. F. Yeager, eds. The Routledge Research Companion to John Gower (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 253-65.

The value of history, as expressed by Gower, has been the subject of evolving views (253). Traditional criticism sees moral instruction, as voiced by the poet role-playing a prophet in the major Latin poems (253-54). Apocalyptic decay is affirmed, yet human choice may do much to counteract it (254-256). Currently, "(new) historicist" criticism sees Gower's history more as a trove of "competing temporalities and modes of experience" (257). Larger historical precedent is fused with personal experience in the unfolding present, as when Gower recycles the voices of Ovid's suffering heroines in the first-person "Visio" (257). Historical exempla may have no clear lesson, forcing the reader to "triangulate" for meaning (258-59). Affect theory promises insight into individual "engagements with an always partly imagined past" (261). [LBB. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 37.2.]


Gower Subjects
Background and General Criticism
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations