The Afterlife of Gowerfest 2014

Now that the festivities are over and the heightened intensity of engagement with Gower’s work have been assimilated into the more mundane activities of everyday life (and from the perspective of Gower rehab), I can look back upon the week gone by and offer some reflections on the four-day event. First and foremost, perhaps, is the overall impression that Gowerfest as it has become known on social media was a success, at least if the after-buzz is any indication. And while there are many notable presentations to recount (something we’ll be doing over the next few days), suffice it to say at this juncture that the intellectual exchanges among conferees may have been just as fruitful as those more social and entertaining. Among the highlights were stimulating plenary addresses by Russell Peck, Ardis Butterfield, Helen Cooper, and Derek Pearsall, an incomparable concert of Machaut’s “musical monuments” by Schola Cantorum of the Eastman School of Music, Bruce Holsinger’s reading of excerpts from his novel, A Burnable Book, Sarah Higley’s machinima presentation of three Gowerian tales, and a recorded recitation in three languages of the Confessio Amantis. Gower’s futurism was in evidence in such adaptations and imaginative re-presentations. Add to this brief synopsis a showing of the BBC Pericles with Gower’s prominent narration, an exhibit of manuscripts, editions, and illustrations, even a tour on the Erie Canal all folded into conversations on the relevance of the poet’s work in our own lives and we have an event to be remembered.

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