Queering the Middle Ages


Glenn Burger and Steven F. Kruger, editors

A look at medieval literature and society through a queer lens.

The essays in this volume present new work that, in one way or another, “queers” stabilized conceptions of the Middle Ages, allowing us to see the period and its systems of sexuality in radically different, off-center, and revealing ways.

Contributors: Kathleen Biddick, Michael Camille, Marilynn Desmond, Garrett P. J. Epp, Gregory S. Hutcheson, Karma Lochrie, Peggy McCracken, Francesca Canadé Sautman, Larry Scanlon, Susan Schibanoff, Pamela Sheingorn, Claire Sponsler.



Medieval Studies/Gay and Lesbian Studies

A look at medieval literature and society through a queer lens.

The essays in this volume present new work that, in one way or another, “queers” stabilized conceptions of the Middle Ages, allowing us to see the period and its systems of sexuality in radically different, off-center, and revealing ways. While not denying the force of gender and sexual norms, the authors consider how historical work has written out or over what might have been non-normative in medieval sex and culture, and they work to restore a sense of such instabilities. At the same time, they ask how this pursuit might allow us not only to re-envision medieval studies but also to rethink how we study culture from our current set of vantage points within postmodernity.

The authors focus on particular medieval moments: Christine de Pizan’s representation of female sexuality; chastity in the Grail romances; the illustration of “the sodomite” in manuscript commentaries on Dante’s Commedia; the complex ways that sexuality inflected English national politics at the time of Edward II’s deposition; the construction of the sodomitic Moor by Reconquista Spain. Throughout, their work seeks to disturb a logic that sees the past as significant only insofar as it may make sense for and of a stabilized present.

Contributors: Kathleen Biddick, U of Notre Dame; Michael Camille, U of Chicago; Marilynn Desmond, Binghamton U; Garrett P. J. Epp, U of Alberta; Gregory S. Hutcheson, U of Louisville; Karma Lochrie, Indiana U; Peggy McCracken, U of Michigan; Francesca Canadé Sautman, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center; Larry Scanlon, Rutgers U; Susan Schibanoff, U of New Hampshire; Pamela Sheingorn, Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center; and Claire Sponsler, U of Iowa.

ISBN 0-8166-3403-3 Cloth £34.50 $49.95xx
ISBN 0-8166-3404-1 Paper £14.00 $19.95x
256 Pages 16 black-and-white photos 5 7/8 x 9 April
Medieval Cultures Series, volume 27
Translation Inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Glenn Burger is associate professor of English at Queens College, CUNY. Steven F. Kruger is professor of English at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center.



The achievement of Queering the Middle Ages lies not in the rehabilitation or reconstruction of medieval homosexuality, but rather in its depiction of a larger fabric of social taboos constructed against the ingrained moral establishment.

Gay and Lesbian Review

There is much in this volume that could challenge the complacency or disinterest which too frequently characterizes (post)modernists’ views of the Middle Ages. So, too, there is much that will challenge traditional medievalists to re-think their comfortable (re)visions of the Middle Ages. This volume should be read by both groups because it speaks so carefully to the complexities of the period and the value of queer theory for better understanding those complexities.


...Burger and Kruger’s collection, Queering the Middle Ages, is a timely and important book which foregrounds the productive yet often hostile rapprochement between queer theory and medieval scholarship.

South Atlantic Review

[Queering the Middle Ages] pushes the boundaries of historic investigation with many authors using outside theoretic frameworks to try and investigate the elusive topic of medieval sexuality.... Overall this collection is important because it attempts to break apart traditionally held ideas of medieval sexuality and re-evaluates them from a new perspective... an interesting interpretation of what is fast becoming a prominent field of medieval history.

Canadian Journal of History

Glenn Burger and Steven F. Kruger, present their collection as no less than a disturbance of normative sexuality and of temporality itself, an interruption of the teleological bias of historical thinking, as a deconstruction and destabilization of the medieval as we have come to know it. They do it by means of sophisticated and clever queer readings of a few canonical medieval texts and images.






1. Queering Ovidian Myth: Bestiality and Desire in Christine de Pizan's Epistre Othea MARILYNN DESMOND AND PAMELA SHEINGORN
2. Sodomy's Mark: Alan of Lille, Jean de Meun, and the Medieval Theory of Authorship SUSAN SCHIBANOFF
3. The Pose of the Queer: Dante's Gaze, Brunerto Latini's Body MICHAEL CAMILLE
Response Presidential Improprieties and Medieval Categories: The Absurdity of Heterosexuality KARMA LOCHRIE


4. The Sodomitic Moor: Queerness in the Narrative of Reconquista GREGORY S. HUTCHESON
5. Chaste Subjects: Gender, Heroism, and Desire in the Grail Quest PEGGY MC€RACKEN
6. The King's Boyfriend: Froissart's Political Theater of 1326 CLAIRE SPONSIER
Response "Just Like a Woman": Queer History, Womanizing the Body, and the Boys in Arnaud's Band FRANCESCA CANADE SAUTMAN


7. Translating the Foreskin KATHLEEN BIDDICK
8. Shameful Pleasures: Up Close and Dirty with Chaucer, Flesh, and the Word GLENN BURGER
9. Ecce Homo GARRETT P. J. EPP
10. Medieval/Postmodern: HIV/AIDS and the Temporality of Crisis STEVEN F. KRUGER
Response Return of the Repressed: The Sequel LARRY SCANLON


Index of Proper Names and Titles of Anonymous Works