An innovative reading of John Gower's work and an exciting new approach to medieval vernacular texts.
"Moral Gower" he was called by friend and sometime rival Geoffrey Chaucer, and his Confessio Amantis has been viewed as an uncomplicated analysis of the universe, combining erotic narratives with ethical guidance and political commentary. Diane Watt offers the first sustained reading of John Gower's Confessio to argue that this early vernacular text offers no real solutions to the ethical problems it raises--and in fact actively encourages "perverse" readings.
Drawing on a combination of queer and feminist theory, ethical criticism, and psychoanalytic, historicist, and textual criticism, Watt focuses on the language, sex, and politics in Gower's writing. How, she asks, is Gower's Confessio related to contemporary controversies over vernacular translation and debates about language politics? How is Gower's treatment of rhetoric and language gendered and sexualized, and what bearing does this have on the ethical and political structure of the text? What is the relationship between the erotic, ethical, and political sections of Confessio Amantis? Watt demonstrates that Gower engaged in the sort of critical thinking more commonly associated with Chaucer and William Langland at the same time that she contributes to modern debates about the ethics of criticism.
Diane Watt is senior lecturer in English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Analogical Thinking argues that sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, a new mode of comprehension arose, supplementing received Enlightenment ideas concerning the nature of understanding and explanation. Focusing on the innovations of structural linguistics and its poststructural legacy, the individualism of Enlightenment knowledge and the collaborations of post-Enlightenment information, and practices of reading and interpretation across the arts and sciences, Analogical Thinking examines the ways in which analogical presentations of similarities respond to the experiences of twentieth-century culture.
The book traces this mode of thinking in linguistics, collaborative intellectual work in the arts and sciences, and interpretations of literary and sacred texts, concluding with a reading of the concept of Enlightenment in a comparison of Descartes and Foucault. The book examines the poststructuralism of Derrida; the collaborations of information theory and modern science as opposed to the individualism of Adam Smith and others, and analogical interpretations of Yeats, Dinesen, the Bible, Dreiser, and Mailer. Its overall aim is to present an interdisciplinary examination of a particular kind of understanding that responds to the experiences of our time.
Ronald Schleifer is Professor of English, University of Oklahoma. His books include Rhetoric and Death: The Language of Modernism and Postmodern Discourse Theory, Criticism and Culture; and Culture and Cognition: The Boundaries of Literary and Scientific Inquiry.
Abolitionist, women's rights activist, and social reformer, Angelina Grimké (1805-79) was among the first women in American history to seize the public stage in pursuit of radical social reform. "I will lift up my voice like a trumpet," she proclaimed, "and show this people their transgressions." And when she did lift her voice in public, on behalf of the public, she found that, in creating herself, she might transform the world. In the process, Grimké crossed the wires of race, gender, and power, and produced explosions that lit up the world of antebellum reform. Among the most remarkable features of Angelina Grimké's rhetorical career was her ability to stage public contests for the soul of America—bringing opposing ideas together to give them voice, depth, and range to create new and more compelling visions of social change. Angelina Grimké: Rhetoric, Identity, and the Radical Imagination is the first full-length study to explore the rhetorical legacy of this most unusual advocate for human rights. Stephen Browne examines her epistolary and oratorical art and argues that rhetoric gave Grimké a means to fashion not only her message but her very identity as a moral force.
Arguing with Tradition is the first book to explore language and interaction within a contemporary Native American legal system. Grounded in Justin Richland’s extensive field research on the Hopi Indian Nation of northeastern Arizona—on whose appellate court he now serves as Justice Pro Tempore—this innovative work explains how Hopi notions of tradition and culture shape and are shaped by the processes of Hopi jurisprudence.
Like many indigenous legal institutions across North America, the Hopi Tribal Court was created in the image of Anglo-American-style law. But Richland shows that in recent years, Hopi jurists and litigants have called for their courts to develop a jurisprudence that better reflects Hopi culture and traditions. Providing unprecedented insights into the Hopi and English courtroom interactions through which this conflict plays out, Richland argues that tensions between the language of Anglo-style law and Hopi tradition both drive Hopi jurisprudence and make it unique. Ultimately, Richland’s analyses of the language of Hopi law offer a fresh approach to the cultural politics that influence indigenous legal and governmental practices worldwide.
Drawing on the latest research on development among toddlers and preschoolers, At a Loss for Words lays out the importance of getting parents, policy makers, and child care providers to recognize the role of early literacy skills in reducing the achievement gap that begins before three years of age. Readers are guided through home and classroom settings that promote language, contrasting them with the "merely mediocre" child care settings in which more and more young children spend increasing amounts of time. Too many of our young children are not receiving the level of input and practice that will enable them to acquire language skills—the key to success in school and life. Bardige explains how to build better community support systems for children, and better public education, in order to ensure that toddlers learn the power of language from their families and teachers.