Gender and Sexuality in Medieval Literature

Module code: EN7248

This module aims to enable students to theorise gender and sexuality competently in relation to medieval literature and culture. It will introduce them to influential modern theories and consider their applicability to medieval texts. However, it will also introduce students to medieval concepts of gender and sexuality and ask them to assess how these concepts can modify or question modern formulations. We will explore the varying constructions of masculinity and femininity as well as sexuality in medieval literature from a broad range of cultures and times, asking of the material a series of questions, e.g. Did medieval cultures envision the existence of two opposite sexes (as is popularly assumed today)? How far is it possible to speak of sexual identity in the period ‘before homosexuality’? Can we discover women’s voices in the literature (even if it is authored or written down by men)? Use will be made of contemporary gender and queer theories, but no previous knowledge will be assumed, and literature will primarily be studied in translation.

Learning

  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 140 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Essay (100%)
  • Formative exercise (0%)