Gower Out of Time and Place.

Urban, Malte.

Gower Out of Time and Place.

Urban, Malte. "Gower Out of Time and Place." postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 9 (2018), 303-17.

Urban advocates for renewed attention to how we edit Gower's "Confessio Amantis," suggesting that "queer editing" would permit the numerous extant manuscripts to exist simultaneously without privileging one over another: "'Confessio Amantis' and its manuscript corpus actively encourage the co-existence of heterogeneous voices and identities, a co-existence that in turn leads to an urge to reproduce the text in ways that allow for this heterogeneity to inform our encounters with the text" (304). To discuss how to accomplish such editing, Urban engages the concept of queer temporalities, particularly as espoused in the work of Elizabeth Freeman, Carolyn Dinshaw, and Jack Halberstam. Urban suggests that the different manuscripts of Gower's CA witness different temporal moments and that "Gower's poem 'itself' contains these kinds of time frame and temporal systems" (305; emphasis original). These queer temporalities present "the potential to produce unusual encounters with Gower's poem" (305). Urban posits that only when combined do all of the extant manuscripts of the CA create the whole poem (306). He nonetheless acknowledges that the majority of variances are isolated to the poem's prologue. Thus, Urban focuses on the frame narrative of the CA. Focusing on the gloss in the prologue of MS Ashmole 35, Urban explores what queer editing could mean for the CA--in particular its prologue. In this manuscript's iteration of the CA, Urban identifies "aberrant witnesses"--inconsistencies in glosses both Latin and Middle English--in MS Ashmole 35. "The poem's multi-temporal identity facilitates the development of a series of queer temporalities as the poem progresses, in which the past and/or the future disrupt the present, and the present disrupts both the past and the future" (308). He claims this "instability" makes the poem seem "positively queer" (310). Following his discussion of these inconsistencies in Ashmole 35, Urban concludes by restating his claim of the heterogeneity of the CA and its ability to produce multiple meanings. He then advocates for an editorial approach that "emphasizes variants and heterogeneity" (315), which he suggests we may accomplish in the digital sphere. [JS. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 38.2.]


Gower Subjects
Confessio Amantis
Manuscripts and Textual Studies
Facsimiles, Editions, and Translations