Gender and Sexuality in Medieval European Literature

Module code: EN7221

Module co-ordinator: Dr David Clark

This module builds on EN2030 Old English. It explores attitudes to and representations of sex and sexuality in the early medieval period through an in-depth study of a diverse range of Old English literary texts and contexts.


Each weekly seminar session will be based around one of a series of texts that will include translations of the Exeter Book riddles, Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife’s Lament, parts of Beowulf, Genesis, the Phoenix, Ælfric’s Lives of Saints, the anonymous Life of Euphrosyne, and Apollonius of Tyre. Extracts of texts from other literatures will be provided in class to give a comparative framework, and the use of gender and queer theory in analysing issues of medieval sex and sexuality will be evaluated, along with their limitations. We will also consider the gender dynamics of some modern responses to Beowulf, including literary and film adaptations.


  • One 4,000-word essay