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Constructing Medieval Sexuality

1997

Karma Lochrie, Peggy McCracken, and James A. Schultz, editors

Constructing Medieval Sexuality

A groundbreaking examination of sexuality in the Middle Ages.

This collection is the first to be devoted entirely to medieval sexuality informed by current theories of sexuality and gender. It brings together essays from various disciplinary perspectives to consider how the Middle Ages defined, regulated, and represented sexual practices and desires.

Contributors: E. Jane Burns, Joan Cadden, Michael Camille, Dyan Elliott, Louise O. Fradenburg, Mark D. Jordan, and Steven F. Kruger.

In a world of unnecessary collections of essays, Constructing Medieval Sexuality stands out as intense, scrupulous, far-reaching-in two words, vitally needed.

Carolyn Dinshaw, University of California at Berkeley and author of Chaucer's Sexual Poetics; editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

This collection is the first to be devoted entirely to medieval sexuality informed by current theories of sexuality and gender. It brings together essays from various disciplinary perspectives-literary, theological, philosophical, medical, historical, and art historical-to consider how the Middle Ages defined, regulated, and represented sexual practices and desires.

Always considering sexuality in relation to gender, the body, and identity, the essays explore medieval sexuality as a historical construction produced by and embedded in the cultures and institutions of that period. Examining a range of medieval texts and images, the contributors explore the medieval understanding of sodomy, the historical construction of heterosexuality, the polymorphous erotics of female mysticism, and the intersections of sexuality with race, gender, and religion. This work not only offers new perspectives on the ways in which queer theory might inform our views of sexuality in medieval Europe, but also suggests that medieval constructions of sexuality may offer important contributions to both queer theory and the history of sexuality.

These essays, situated in the context of current debates, linger over various definitions of medieval sexuality; they speak to each other in their differences and their similarities to further productive thinking about the sometimes conflicting and always fascinating ways in which the Middle Ages regarded sex and sexuality.

Contributors: E. Jane Burns, U of North Carolina; Joan Cadden, U of California, Davis; Michael Camille, U of Chicago; Dyan Elliott, Indiana U; Louise O. Fradenburg, U of California, Santa Barbara; Mark D. Jordan, U of Notre Dame; Steven F. Kruger, CUNY.

Constructing Medieval Sexuality

Karma Lochrie is associate professor of English at Loyola University of Chicago. James A. Schultz is professor of German at the University of California, Los Angeles. Peggy McCracken is assistant professor of French at the University of Illinois.

Constructing Medieval Sexuality

In a world of unnecessary collections of essays, Constructing Medieval Sexuality stands out as intense, scrupulous, far-reaching-in two words, vitally needed.

Carolyn Dinshaw, University of California at Berkeley and author of Chaucer's Sexual Poetics; editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies

Constructing Medieval Sexuality raises illuminating questions about the intersection between medieval history and modern theories of sexuality. The book's highlights include chapters by Dyan Elliott on clerical sexuality, Michael Camille on representing sex in manuscripts, Jane Burns on gender and clothing, and Steven Kruger on sex, race, and religion. These challenging and scholarly essays call into question the border between the modern and the medieval-borders that it is increasingly important for both sides to deconstruct.

Peter L. Allen, Pomona College