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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Richard II’s reign as king of England was characterized by an explosion in the production of literary and political vernacular texts and by dramatic political upheaval. In the last quarter of the fourteenth century, crises such as the Great Revolt, the development of Lollardy, mayoral disputes, and usurpation coincided with the emergence of writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and William Langland, along with many other literary practitioners such as John Clanvowe and Thomas Usk. Broadsides, pamphlets, and other publically-circulated documents employed literary modes for political ends. This article examines the highly politicized and difficult environment in which late fourteenth-century English literature was born. It considers the political nature of textual production and how increased access to textuality encouraged people to employ texts as political ammunition.

Keywords: England, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, William Langland, John Clanvowe, Thomas Usk, medieval period, conflict, English literature

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