Middle English Literature

L306 — Fall 2021

Karma Lochrie
Days and Times
9:25a - 10:40a TR (3 CR)
Course Description

Topic: Medieval Literature of the Queer

How did the Middle Ages conceive of masculinity and femininity, trans and nonbinary genders?  Most people might assume that this period of literary history had little to say on these subjects, but they would be wrong.  In fact, medieval texts have the potential to challenge our own ways of thinking about gender, as well as sexuality, their approaches to these same subjects from very different historical perspectives.  For example, the Romance of Silence follows a heroine who passes as a man for most of its narrative and conducts its own debate between nature and nurture regarding the origins of gender.  Sexuality, too, ranged in its representations from the bawdy to the romantic.  Our study will be especially attentive the ways in which gender and sexuality might be “queer” in medieval texts and how medieval queerness might speak to modern queerness. We will be considering both in medieval texts from England and France, including some in Middle English and others in translation.  Requirements for the course will include some translation exercises, quizzes, two 5-7 page papers, and a final exam.

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