Voices of Great Authority: Telling Tales, Framing History in the Reigns of Richard II and Henry VI
Date of Completion
Medieval, Public, Authority, Gower, Vox Clamantis, Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Lydgate, Fall of Princes
Frederick M. Biggs
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
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.
Longo, Pamela Lynn, "Voices of Great Authority: Telling Tales, Framing History in the Reigns of Richard II and Henry VI" (2014). Doctoral Dissertations. 563.
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