Lordship and Literature: John Gower and the Politics of the Great Household by Elliot Kendall

Lordship and Literature: John Gower and the Politics of the Great Household

byElliot Kendall

Hardcover | May 8, 2008

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A ground-breaking approach to the politics of late medieval texts, Lordship and Literature explores the importance of the great household to late fourteenth-century English culture and society. Studies of medieval English literature have yet to recognize the full significance of this crucialsocial structure. A sustained new reading of John Gower's major English poem, Confessio Amantis, shows how deeply the great household informed the way Gower and his contemporaries imagined their world. Encompassing royal government and gentry ambitions, this profoundly interdisciplinary book viewsthe period's politics in terms of a household-based economy of power.The great household rode immense political shockwaves in the late fourteenth century, when royal aggrandizement and economic crisis in the wake of the Black Death challenged dominant modes of aristocratic power. Analysing texts including the Appeal of the Merciless Parliament, imagination of lordlypower by Chaucer, Gower, and Clanvowe, and parliamentary controversy over livery and justice, Lordship and Literature examines the implications of these challenges. The economics of power - described by thinkers such as Pierre Bourdieu and Marcel Mauss - spans Ricardian political and literaryculture, informing elite politics and love allegory alike. Competing models of household politics, and their literary force, are revealed here in wide-ranging interpretations of exchange - of women, hospitality, livery, loyalty, retribution - in Gower's complex and influential poem. Lordship andLiterature locates Confessio Amantis firmly in its historical moment, arguing that the poem belongs to a powerful yet embattled aristocratic politics.

About The Author

Elliot Kendall is a Lecturer in Medieval Literature at the University of Exeter.

Details & Specs

Title:Lordship and Literature: John Gower and the Politics of the Great HouseholdFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.18 inPublished:May 8, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199542643

ISBN - 13:9780199542642

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The great household and an economics of power2. The political economy in the late fourteenth century3. Service allegory: the great household in Genius's confession4. Courtly love and the lordship of Venus5. Women as household exchange in Genius's tales6. Justice and the affinity7. Retribution as household exchange in Genius's tales8. Total reciprocity and the problem of kingship