Deploying conventions from medieval courtesy manuals, Gower’s Visio Anglie assigned varied degrees of authority to Englishmen and women at the bodily level, a system of signification in which food, physical appearances, and overall comportment were key elements. Echoing courtesy manuals, the Visio constructed corporal marks of distinction, interpreted physical signifiers as indices of people’s inner character and value, and classified bodies into social groups accordingly. Offering understandings of civility that began with codes of bodily conduct and that expanded to claims about the cosmos, the Visio’s corporal regulatory system promoted particular understandings of citizenship and governance that sought to protect the socioeconomic hierarchy in late fourteenth-century England. According to the Visio, the insurgents in 1381 not only thwarted bodily classifications and threatened to liquidate the attendant systems of social stratification, but they eroded more global differences that subtended civilization itself. Constituting a force of annihilation, Gower’s rebels took up and occupied a queer position—not unlike that articulated by Lee Edelman—that imperiled both health and futurity, ultimately demonstrating the need to further disenfranchise and control the non-ruling classes in the wake of the English Rising of 1381.
"Civility and Gower's "Visio Anglie","
Accessus: Vol. 1:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/accessus/vol1/iss1/5