Edited by Amanda Hopkins, Robert Allen Rouse and Cory James Rushton
It is often said that the past is a foreign country where they do things differently, and perhaps no type of "doing" is more fascinating than sexual desires and behaviours. Our modern view of medieval sexuality is characterised by a polarising dichotomy between the swooning love-struck knights and ladies of romance on one hand, and the darkly imagined and misogyny of an unenlightened "medieval" sexuality on the other. British medieval sexual culture also exhibits such dualities through the influential paradigms of sinner or saint, virgin or whore, and protector or defiler of women. However, such sexual identities are rarely coherent or stable, and it is in the grey areas, the interstices between normative modes of sexuality, that we find the most compelling instances of erotic frisson and sexual expression.
This collection of essays brings together a wide-ranging discussion of the sexual possibilities and fantasies of medieval Britain as they manifest themselves in the literature of the period. Taking as their matter texts and authors as diverse as Chaucer, Gower, Dunbar, Malory, alchemical treatises, and romances, the contributions reveal a surprising variety of attitudes, strategies and sexual subject positions.
About the Editors:
Amanda Hopkins teaches in English and French at the University of Warwick; Robert Allen Rouse is Associate Professor of English at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Cory James Rushton is Associate Professor of English at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Introduction: A Light Thrown upon Darkness: Writing about Medieval British Sexuality
Robert Allen Rouse and Cory James Rushton
1. ‘Open manslaughter and bold bawdry’: Male Sexuality as a Cause of Disruption in Malory’s Morte Darthur
2. Erotic (Subject) Positions in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale
Amy S. Kaufman
3. Enter the Bedroom: Managing Space for the Erotic in Middle English Romance
Megan G. Leitch
4. ‘Naked as a nedyll’: The Eroticism of Malory’s Elaine
5. ‘How love and I togedre met’: Gower, Amans and the Lessons of Venus in the Confessio Amantis
Samantha J. Rayner
6. ‘Bogeysliche as a boye’: Performing Sexuality in William of Palerne
7. Fairy Lovers: Sexuality, Order and Narrative in Medieval Romance
8. Text as Stone: Desire, Sex, and the Figurative Hermaphrodite in the Ordinal and Compound of Alchemy
9. Animality, Sexuality and the Abject in Three of Dunbar’s Satirical Poems
10. The Awful Passion of Pandarus
Cory James Rushton
11. Invisible Woman: Rape as a Chivalric Necessity in Medieval Romance
Amy N. Vines
For more information, please visit the publisher's website.