Queering the Middle Ages
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.