Title Background

Calling: Langland Gower, Gower, and Chaucer on Saint Paul

Calling: Langland Gower, Gower, and Chaucer on Saint Paul

This article investigates the idea of calling in late medieval literature, an idea that was most thoroughly installed in Christian doctrine by Saint Paul. It uses William Langland’s PPl, John Gower’s Vox clamantis, and Geoffrey Chaucer’s House of Fame and Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale in order to show not only an extensive engagement with the theory of calling in the work of three key late medieval English writers but also to demonstrate what was at stake in that engagement. Davis argues that although the idea of calling has sometimes been considered an invention of the Reformation, there was a sophisticated, albeit different interpretation of Pauline theory in the later Middle Ages. This article discovers and analyses a field of relationships within late medieval literary texts around voice, naming, hailing and response, deploying more recent accounts of Paul’s Epistles (especially from Giorgio Agamben, for example) to make explicit the politics of late medieval Pauline poetics and, in particular, the idea of the ‘call’. (ID)


Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 34 (2012), 53-97.


Davis, Isabel