Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Medieval, Public, Authority, Gower, Vox Clamantis, Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Lydgate, Fall of Princes

Major Advisor

Fiona Somerset

Associate Advisor

Frederick M. Biggs

Associate Advisor

Kathleen Tonry

Associate Advisor

Sara Johnson

Associate Advisor

Sherri Olson

Field of Study

Medieval Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Voices of Great Authority: Framing History, Reforming Community in the Reigns of Richard II and Henry VI demonstrates the cross-connections between modalities of poetic voice and persona, imagined audiences, and political authority in fourteenth and fifteenth-century poetry produced during the reigns of child kings. This work studies Latinate and vernacular, lay and clerical efforts to create meaning out of contemporary history, particularly its crises of authority, by reading authorial frameworks in John Gower’s Vox Clamantis, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and John Lydgate’s Fall of Princes for their outreach to engaged readers. I argue that these texts variously adopt a rhetoric of communal authority at moments in the reigns of child kings when actual or perceived youthful rule highlighted the need to define the obligations and limits of power and when a public culture worked to promote the social good by shaping an ethical, historically conscious community. My project traces the hybrid discourses and voices through which my sources convey to diverse publics the often complicated role that community plays in public life as they explore the social good of poetry in the fallen world.

Available for download on Sunday, August 18, 2024