The Gower Project publishes an online journal entitled Accessus: A Journal of Premodern Literature and New Media.
The Gower Project Blog offers a space for exchange on contemporary issues in scholarship on the Middle Ages.
The Gower Project Translation Wiki is an open forum for modern translations of John Gower’s major works (Mirour de l’Omme, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis). Please email Georgiana Donavin to be made a member of the Gower Project Translation Wiki.
The Gower Project organized two sessions at Gower V in St. Andrews in July, 2023: Gower and the East; Gower and Maps. The description for each session is below:
Gower and the East
Recent work by Geraldine Heng (Empires of Magic; Invention of Race) and others (Akbari, Kinoshito) on perceptions of the East by premodern writers expands our understanding of narrative networks that extend beyond the boundaries of Europe. Stories in the Confessio Amantis, especially those of Constance, Alexander the Great, Apollonius, and even Medea, provide the substrate upon which we may view such networks to shed additional light on early views of otherness and its impact on collective identities. Not only do new ways of looking to the East from a European perspective contribute to literatures emerging in vernacular languages, but they also enable us to see how ideas associated with them traverse geographical and ideological constraints. This session encourages readings of these tales and others like them that take us beyond what we think we currently know about Gower and his worldview.
Gower and Maps
In Book 7 of the Confessio Amantis, Genius’s description of the geography of the world is “after the forme of Mappemounde” (7.559). The shape of the world mapped out in these ways, appears to be a concern of the poet in his developing perspective on temporal and regional difference. As if he were looking at the T-O map so stylishly customized to receive the poet’s arrows in the Cotton Tiberius manuscript, he describes the known world as being divided into three parts and distributed among the three sons of Noah. Yet neither mappaemundi nor T-O maps nor even a biblically validated tripartite division of Creation capture the expanse of Gower’s geographical vision. This session looks at the standard mappaemundi and T-O maps of the time in conjunction with nautical maps depicting shoreline locations and shipping routes as well as land maps known to show actual routes of exchange (the Silk Road[s]) to visualize the extent of the poet’s cartographic knowledge and its implications.
The Gower Project sponsored an online symposium in June, 2021 entitled “Hope and Healing in Gower.”
Georgiana Donavin organized a session for the 2019 MLA Convention in Chicago that has been chosen by Anne Ruggles Gere to represent the presidential theme of Textual Transactions. “Gower’s Confessio Amantis in Manuscript, Print, Machine, and Production,” session #92 to take place on Thursday, January 3 at 3:30-4:45 PM in Michigan 2 at the Hyatt Regency, features papers by Mimi Ensley, Eve Salisbury, Alvin Grissom and Kara McShane, and Andrea R. Harbin and Tamara F. O’Callaghan. The abstracts for their presentations are linked here: Combined Abstracts for MLA 2019
The Gower Project sponsored a session on early modern receptions of “Apollonius of Tyre” at the fourth international congress on Gower, a joint meeting of the John Gower Society / Early Book Society in Durham, July, 2017. The session was entitled “Apollonius and Pericles: Manuscripts, Rhetoric, Performance, and Desire.” This session connected manuscripts of the Confessio Amantis, early readings of “Apollonius of Tyre,” rhetorical teachings, and current theoretical perspectives with late medieval and early modern adaptations of Gower’s work. Presenters discussed Robert Copland’s Romance of Kynge Apollyn of Thyre and Shakespeare’s Pericles as they developed multiple receptions of “Apollonius of Tyre.” Click here for Paper abstracts for Gower IV.
The Gower Project sponsored two sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, May, 2017: a panel entitled “International Gower” and a roundtable on “Gower and Games” Please click on the links for abstracts of the talks presented in these sessions.
The Gower Project sponsored a session entitled “Gower and the Globe” at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, May, 2016. Abstracts of the three papers presented in this session are linked below. Will Rogers, who was the session respondent, will soon compose a blog on his conclusions. Please see the link to The Gower Project Blog above.
Shyama Rajendran, Going Feral: Uncontrollable Languages in the Vox Clamantis
Seth Strickland, Spheres of Intercourse: Incest, Revelation, and Authorial Influence in Pericles and Confessio Amantis
Eve Salisbury, “All the World’s a Stage”: Gower, Pericles, and Authorial Mobility
The Gower Project sponsored two sessions at the 2015 International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo: “Gower and Performance (A Performance)” and “Gower and Medicine.”
Read the abstracts here:
M. W.Bychowski, Unconfessing Gender: Transgender Youths and the Medicalization of Sin in John Gower’s “Tale of Iphis and Ianthe”
Jenny Boyar, Broken Mirroring and the Parameters of Recollection in the Confessio Amantis
Sarah Gillette, A Medical “Middel Weie”: Cerymon’s Interactive Healing in the Confessio Amantis
Pamela Yee, Confessional Truths: Therapeutic Self Stories in Gower’s Confessio Amantis
The Gower Project hosted two sessions for III Gower Congress at the University of Rochester, 30 June-3 July, 2014:
“JOHN GOWER: LANGUAGE, COGNITION, AND PERFORMANCE”
Read the proposals here:
“The Gower Project and New Media”
“Gower and Medicine”
Georgiana Donavin and Eve Salisbury, Co-Directors of the Gower Project, delivered a paper during the New Chaucer Society Conference in Iceland on Saturday July 19, 2014:
Read the abstract here: “Treasure Trove to Drawer in Disarray: Newberry Library MS 33.5”
The Gower Project sponsored two sessions at the 2013 Congress in Kalamazoo: “Historiographical Gower” and “Gower and Gender.”
Click on the author’s name to read the abstracts: Elise Broaddus, Pamela Longo, Tamara O’Callaghan and Adam Osborn.
The Gower Project sponsored the following session at the MLA Convention in Boston, 2013:
Enabling Access: Gower and Premodern Disability Studies
Medievalists have only recently begun to explore constructions of disability in premodern culture; Edward Wheatley’s Stumbling Blocks Before the Blind (2010), which addresses medieval conceptions of blindness with more recent attempts to regain civil rights for the (dis)abled is but one example. A particularly fruitful substrate for this line of inquiry into premodern attitudes toward blindness is the work of John Gower since the poet both personally experiences visual impairment and uses his impairment as a central trope in his compendious English work, the Confessio Amantis. The four papers in this session address various aspects of blindness and the impaired body both in relation to fourteenth-century perceptions of (dis)ability and within a broader historical context. They demonstrate how Gower’s work provides a model of disability that contributes both to what we know about access and limitation for the (dis)abled, the disenfranchised, and the displaced. Jonathan Hsy (George Washington U.) repositions Gower in the literary canon by looking to nineteenth-century anthologies—Biography of the Blind and Blindness and the Blind to situate the poet within a lineage of visually challenged artists. Gower’s “blindness poetry” and his own status as a blind poet both challenges the hegemony of Homer and displaces the most famous of early blind English poets—Milton—to become a “founding figure of a newly configured disability canon,” an identification that enables us to recognize other poets (both male and female) as “participants in the history of early advocacy for the blind and even disability rights activism.” Tory Vandeventer Pearman (Miami U.) looks to Gower’s Confessio Amantis and the representation of blindness in the tales of Medusa and Constance, arguing that the “formal structure and thematic explorations. . . rely upon the (dis)abled body and its inextricable relationship to narration.” The correlation between Gower’s socially-inflected poetic and the fractured body politic of fourteenth-century England is mapped out explicitly. The poem’s fixation on blindness, both physical and metaphorical, construct a conundrum, a dis-ease that requires a remedy, here construed as the talk therapy of confession. Candace Barrington (Central Connecticut State U.) looks at a particular manuscript of the Confessio Amantis, the “only extant manuscript we can date after Gower becomes blind” to examine how it “registers disability, becoming, as it were, a text about disability.” Because this particular manuscript “bears marks of editors’ and readers’ discomforts with its disabilities” it provides a commentary on “how post-medieval readers have misread disability and other so-called deviancies.” The case for the poet as an important source for understanding premodern disabilities is made. William Youngman (Cornell U.) explores the correlation between age and “affective responses” to the deteriorating and impaired physical body. Gower’s unveiling of his pubescent poetic persona, Amans, as a persona of the aged poet himself exposes the disparities between youth and age and the limitations of a lover grown old. And because the body is so central to the narrative, the implications of deteriorating sexual puissance also play out in the body of the text. “Gower’s description of age presents a relationship to texts and history that is characterized by infirmities and impairments, even as it is affective and textual: time revises the body.”
Gower Project members attended the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 10-13, 2012, which marked the 50th anniversary of Western Michigan University’s first conference on medieval studies.
The Gower Project sponsored two sessions, “Digital Gower” and “Gower and Translation” at the Congress.
Abstracts of papers presented at “Digital Gower” session:
“Technology and/as Mirror of Man” by Denise Stodola
“Gower and the Digital Wor(l)d” by Tamara F. O’Callaghan
“Disseminating Gower”by Eve Salisbury
Abstracts of papers presented at “Gower and Translation” session:
“Gower’s Amans and the laus mentulae in Maximianus” by David R. Carlson
“Translating Gower’s Balades: Challenges, Solutions” by R.F. Yeager
“Translating the Confessio: Theory and Practice” by Martha W. Driver and Eugene Richie
Gower Project members gathered at The Medieval Association of the Pacific at Santa Clara University on March 30-31, 2012. We sponsored a session for the conference entitled “New Work from The Gower Project,” with papers by Lynn Arner, Robert Meindl, Eve Salisbury, and Kim Zarins.
Abstracts of papers presented at MAP:
“Gower and Death, Chaucer and Futurity” by Lynn Arner
“London 1381 and Cologne 1945: “A Tale of Two Cities”?”by Robert Meindl
The Gower Project met at The International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, 2011. We sponsored a session entitled “Gower and Theory” and in our business meeting agreed to begin work on a network of Websites, each dedicated to a specific project in Gower studies. See the links below for synopses of the papers in the “Gower and Theory” session.
Abstracts of papers presented:
“Reading Gower in Early Modern Monster Culture” by Serina Patterson
“Commemorating Latin” by Cristina Pangilinan
“Civility and the Vox Clamantis” by Lynn Arner
46th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, 12-15 May 2011.
2010 Medieval Association of the Pacific’s Conference, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA 4-6 March, 2010.
Gower’s Geography, The New Chaucer Society’s XVI International Congress, Swansea University, 17-22 July 2008, in Wales.
Session Organizer and Chair: Lynn Arner
Tamara F. O’Callaghan (Northern Kentucky University)
“Mapping the Trojan World in Gower’s Poetry”
Yoshiko Kobayashi (University of Tokyo) “London as a Widowed City in John Gower’s Vox Clamantis”
Jamie Taylor (Bryn Mawr College)
“Gower and the Matter of Spain”
“New Directions in John Gower Studies: A Round Table Discussion,” International Medieval Congress 2006, Leeds, UK, 10-13 July, 2006.
John Gower and Hypertext Project members will hold a formal meeting during a round table at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, July 10, 2006. See the following details.
IMC Session Number: 406
Location: Weetwood, Cookridge Room 1
Time: 7:30-8:30 PM
Organizer: Georgiana Donavin, Westminster College
Moderator: Diane Watt, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Session Title: New Directions in John Gower Studies—A Round Table Discussion
John Gower’s 14 th-century poems have undergone a critical renaissance. Each participant in this round table represents an emerging movement in scholarship on John Gower, including the new ethical criticism, interdisciplinary approaches, Marxism, British Cultural Studies, studies in medieval violence, and constructions of masculinities. Participants will identify how these new approaches and subjects of inquiry inform and rejuvenate readings of Gower’s work. Finally, the round table will explore the possibility of a hypertext project that facilitates communication about these new methods and topics for Gower research, and also allows for more representation of European scholars. In conclusion, the group will survey the best means of organizing The John Gower and Hypertext Project in order to accomplish the goals set during the round table.
Lynn Arner, University of Pittsburgh
Isabel Davis, Birkbeck College, University of London
Simon Meecham-Jones, University of Cambridge
Allan Mitchell, University of Kent
Eve Salisbury, Western Michigan University
Malte Urban, University of Wales, Aberystwyth