This session brought together some exciting new ways to study and think about Gower’s poetry (as well as other medieval writers). Beginning with an introduction to the newest additions to The Gower Project websites, including the latest versions of our online bibliography, links to a diverse array of resources, the translation Wiki, and digitized texts and manuscripts, session presenters demonstrated creative new ways of teaching and assimilating an expansive Gowerian cosmology. In “Virtual(ly) Gower: The Confessio Amantis in Hyperprint,” Tamara O’Callaghan and Andrea Harbin showed us how “a collaborative digital humanities tool” they are developing with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities promises to engage undergraduate students “in a manner that helps them read the Middle English text and enhances their understanding of the literary work and its historical period.” Their hypertext edition of Gower’s English poem “uses a combination of the printed page and e-devices (such as iPhone, iPad, android tablets, etc.) to provide textual, audio, graphical, and Augmented Reality enhancements to the literary work.” Their demonstration of Augmented Reality sparked the audience’s interest and at the suggestion of the presenters prompted them to seek out the app on their own e-devices. Needless to say, the conversation was lively and remarkably interactive, making O’Callaghan and Harbin’s claim for the intensity of student engagement apparent to everyone in the room.
Serina Patterson sustained that audience energy as she proceeded to unveil the digital application she is currently developing at the University of British Columbia. Called 7Planets 3D–The Medieval Universe, this is an app that “charts the stars, the planets, constellations, and celestial bodies in our galaxy through the writings of medieval poets and thinkers.” Focusing on Book 7 of the Confessio Amantis, Patterson showed us how such an app has the capacity to enhance our appreciation of Gower’s “distillation of various sources,” including Brunetto Latini’s Tresor and Fulgentius’ Mythologicon. We can now position ourselves at any given spot (maybe even Southwark Cathedral) and look to the stars as Gower “charts a course from the earth outwards, through the planets, zodiac, and fifteen other constellations.” The possibilities for this new app are mind-boggling and many of us left the room contemplating the future of medieval studies. All in all the session fulfilled its promise, bringing cutting-edge technologies to the attention of a forward-looking group of medievalists.