Before the Closet: Same-Sex Love from "Beowulf" to "Angels in America"

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 1998 - History - 369 pages
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Allen J. Frantzen challenges the long accepted view that the early Middle Ages tolerated and even fostered same-sex relations and that intolerance of homosexuality developed only late in the medieval period. Frantzen shows that in early medieval Europe, the Church did not tolerate same-sex acts, in fact it was an age before people recognized the existence—or the possibility—of the "closet."

With its ambitious scope and elegant style, Before the Closet sets same-sex relations in Anglo-Saxon sources in relation to the sexual themes of contemporary opera, dance, and theatre. Frantzen offers a comprehensive analysis of sources from the seventh to the twelfth century and traces Anglo-Saxon same-sex behavior through the age of Chaucer and into the Renaissance.

"Frantzen's marvelous book . . . opens up a world most readers will never have even known was there. It's a difficult topic, but Frantzen's comprehensive, readable and even wryly funny treatment makes this an unexpected pleasure."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
  

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Before the closet: same-sex love from Beowulf to Angels in America

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Frantzen (English, Loyola Univ.) here attempts to refute John Boswell's classic work on homosexuality in the Middle Ages, Christianity, Social Tolerance And Homosexuality (LJ 6/1/80). Unfortunately ... Read full review

Contents

Whats Love Got to Do with It?
33
Kiss and Tell AngloSaxon Tales of Manly Men and Women
68
THE ANGLOSAXONS
109
Surveying SameSex Relations in the Early Middle Ages
111
The Sociology of Sex in AngloSaxon Laws and Penitentials
138
The Shadow of Sodom SameSex Relations in Pastoral Prose and Poetry
184
FROM ANGLES TO ANGELS
229
Sex and the AngloSaxons from the Norman Conquest to the Renaissance
231
Alla Angli and Angels in America
264
Me and My Shadows
293
Notes
309
Index
359
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About the author (1998)

Allen J. Frantzen is a professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. He is the author of "Before the Closet: Same-Sex Love from "Beowulf" to "Angels in America,

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