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Medieval Masculinities

Regarding Men in the Middle Ages

1994

Clare A. Lees, editor

Medieval Masculinities

This collection of essays examines the ideals and archetypes of men in Medieval times and how these concepts have affected the definition of masculinity and its place in history.

This collection of essays examines the ideals and archetypes of men in Medieval times and how these concepts have affected the definition of masculinity and its place in history.

Contributors: Christopher Baswell, Vern L. Bullough, Stanley Chojnacki, John Coakley, Thelma Fenster, Clare Kinney, Clare A. Lees, Jo Ann McNamara, Louise Mirrer, Harriet Spiegel, and Susan Mosher Stuard.

“In this stimulating and innovative collection of essays, canonical texts and contemporary feminist theories mutually challenge and illuminate each other. Ranging from questions of epic violence and heroic embodiments of manhood to contructions of bachelorhood, husbandry, and sainthood, Medieval Masuclinities is the first synthesis of medieval and gender studies to focus on masculinities. Certain to have a significant impact, it is long awaited and very welcome, and will be of great interest to scholars of the medieval period and/or gender.” Harry Brod, Editor of The Making of Masculinities: The New Men’s Studies; Theorizing Masuclinities; and A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity.

"Ranging from questions of epic violence and heroic embodiments of manhood to constructions of bachelorhood, husbandry, and sainthood, Medieval Masculinities is the first synthesis of medieval and gender studies to focus on masculinities."
Harry Brod, editor of The Making of Masculinities

"We should not be working [exclusively] on the subjected sex any more than a historian of class can focus exclusively on peasants."-Natalie Zemon Davis, 1975
In the years since Natalie Davis made this remark, men's studies, and gender studies along with it, has earned its place in scholarship. What is often missing from such studies, however, is the insight that the concept of gender in general, and that of masculinity in particular, can be understood only in relation to individual societies, examined at specific historical and cultural moments.
A brilliant application of this insight, Medieval Masculinities is the first full-length collection to explore the issues of men's studies and contemporary theories of gender within the context of the Middle Ages.
Interdisciplinary and multicultural, the essays range from matrimony in medieval Italy to bachelorhood in Renaissance Venice, from friars and saints to the male animal in the fables of Marie de France, from manhood in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, and the Roman d'Eneas to men as "other," whether Muslim or Jew, in medieval Castilian epic and ballad. The authors are especially concerned with cultural manifestations of masculinity that transcend this particular historical period-idealized gender roles, political and economic factors in structuring social institutions, and the impact of masculinist ideology in fostering and maintaining power. Together, their essays constitute an important reassessment of traditional assumptions within medieval studies as well as a major contribution to the evolving study of gender.

Contributors
Christopher Baswell, Barnard College
Vern L. Bullough, SUNY, Buffalo
Stanley Chojnacki, Michigan State University
John Coakley, New Brunswick Theological Seminary
Thelma Fenster, Fordham University
Clare Kinney, University of Virginia
Clare A. Lees, University of Pennsylvania
Jo Ann McNamara, Hunter College
Louise Mirrer, Fordham University
Harriet Spiegel, California State University, Chico
Susan Mosher Stuard, Haverford College


Medieval Masculinities

Clare A. Lees is assistant professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Medieval Masculinities

“In this stimulating and innovative collection of essays, canonical texts and contemporary feminist theories mutually challenge and illuminate each other. Ranging from questions of epic violence and heroic embodiments of manhood to contructions of bachelorhood, husbandry, and sainthood, Medieval Masuclinities is the first synthesis of medieval and gender studies to focus on masculinities. Certain to have a significant impact, it is long awaited and very welcome, and will be of great interest to scholars of the medieval period and/or gender.” Harry Brod, Editor of The Making of Masculinities: The New Men’s Studies; Theorizing Masuclinities; and A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity.

“Medieval Masculinities is an exciting and timely volume which will establish new terms for the historicization of gender studies. It brings together literary and historical methodologies to challenge universalist assumptions about hegemonic masculinity in the Middle Ages, to engage contemporary theories of gender and subjectivity, and to locate discursive constructions of sexuality in the multicultural experiences of the past.” Rita Copeland *O.K. to edit but please run edited version by her before going to print.

"This timely anthology adds an important dimension to the burgeoning work on women in the Middle Ages. It seeks to dismantle monolithic notions of patriarchy, and to understand its effect on those 'millions of men who were only men,' who have been effaced by critical and historical discourse. Male hegemony, the authors suggest, must constantly intersect with and adapt itself to the authors' varied examination of such adaptations and permutations offer a powerful exposition of individual males' of patriarchy in specific literary, historical and social contexts, this collection offers numerous insights into its power to define both men and women.

“Each essay is impressively well-referenced through the end notes, the provision of original and Modern English versions of almost all literary and many historical texts makes the essays accessible to both specialist and general reader, and the final index facilitates the investigation of thematic links. . . . . produces an invigorating opening-out of medieval versions of men and women.” International Medieval Bibliography

“Medieval Masculinities demonstrates forcefully that no single, monologic male identity in medieval Western Europe can be posited; taken together, the essays effectively calibrate differences in representation from one genre or the discourse or time or one place to another.” Kathleen Coyne Kelly Northeastern University