Gender and Sexuality
Gender and Sexuality
This bibliography is intended as an introduction to the critical works on gender and sexuality published by medievalists in recent decades. It is by no means comprehensive, though I have tried to include all the major works which have influenced the debate. John Boswell's book, Christianity and Social Tolerance, for example, was instrumental in igniting the discussion of pre-modern sexuality, as well as having a significant impact on 1980s identity politics. In fact, many of the works included are important outside the field of medieval literary studies. Some, like Leo Steinberg's The Sexuality of Christ, seem to lie outside the usual chronology of the period, though their influence on discussion of medieval sexuality have been great. Though I have tried to limit the works included to general works on gender and sexuality, some studies of specific texts or authors have been very influential in the development of queer and gender theory. For example: Carolyn Dinshaw's Chaucer's Sexual Poetics revolutionized the study of sexuality of the middle ages, as did Caroline Walker Bynum's Holy Feast and Holy Fast, a must-read which divided the academic community when it was published in 1987.
The majority of work on medieval gender and sexuality is still published in books of collected essays - perhaps because this format maintains the idea of dialogue which has been so important in the development of the movement - but more likely because publishers are still reluctant to publish monographs on queer subjects! I have therefore included several books of essays in which the main proponents of these theories appear: Studying Medieval Women, Queering the Middle Ages, Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, Premodern Sexualities, and others. These books often also have additional bibliographies on the subject. As far as critics driving the queer and gender theory debate forward today go, the following names are always worth looking out for: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Carolyn Dinshaw, Sarah Salih, Peggy McCracken, Robert Mills, Karma Lochrie.
I have not included non-medievalist queer and gender theorists as this would have doubled the size of the bibliography, however the following critics have been especially influential to work on medieval gender and sexuality: Michel Foucault (especially The History of Sexuality ), Luce Irigaray (for example “La Mysterique” in Speculum of the Other Woman) and Judith Butler (Gender Trouble, and Bodies that Matter), among many.
This bibliography has been provided by Ingrid Abreu Scherer at the University of Cambridge. Please see our Cambridge Contacts page for details regarding her research and for her contact information.
Posted 5th October 2004

Aers, David, Community, Gender, and Individual Identity: English Writing 1360 - 1430 (London: Routledge, 1988)
Aers, David and Lynn Staley, eds, The Powers of the Holy: Religion, Politics, and Gender in Late Medieval English Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996)
Baldwin, John W., The Language of Sex: Five Voices from Northern France around 1200 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994)
Barratt, Alexandra, ed., Women's Writing in Middle English (London: Longman, 1992)
Bell, Rudolph, Holy Anorexia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985)
Blamires, Alcuin, Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)
Bloch, R. Howard, Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991)
Boswell, John, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1980)
---, Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (New York: Villard Books, 1994)
Brown, Judith, 'Lesbian Sexuality in Renaissance Italy: The Case of Sister Benedetta Carlini', Signs , 9 (1984), 751-58
---, Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986)
Brundage, James A., Law, Sex and Christian Society in Medieval Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987)
Bullough, Vern L. and James A. Brundage, eds, Handbook of Medieval Sexuality (New York & London: Garland, 1996)
Burger, Glen and Steven F. Kruger, eds, Queering the Middle Ages , Medieval Cultures 27 (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 2001)
Burns, E. Jane, Bodytalk: When Women Speak in Old French Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)
Bynum, Caroline Walker, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley, L.A. & London: University of California Press, 1982)
---, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (Berkeley, L.A. & London: University of California Press, 1987)
---, Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (New York: Zone, 1992)
Bynum, Caroline Walker, S. Harrell and P. Richman, eds, Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986)
Cadden, Joan, Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages: Medicine, Science, and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)
Camille, Michael, The Medieval Art of Love: Objects and Subjects of Desire (London: Laurence King, 1998)
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages , Medieval Cultures 17 (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 1999)
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome and Bonnie Wheeler, eds, Becoming Male in the Middle Ages (New York & London: Garland, 2000)
Dinshaw, Carolyn, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989)
---, 'Getting Medieval: Pulp Fiction, Gawain, Foucault', in The Book and the Body, ed. by Dolores Warwick Frese and Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997), pp. 116-63
---, Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern (Durham, N.C. & London: Duke University Press, 1999)
Dinshaw, Carolyn and David Wallace, eds, The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Fradenburg, L. O. Aranye and Carla Freccero, eds, Premodern Sexualities (London: Routledge, 1996)
Gaunt, Simon, Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)
Gravdal, Kathryn, Ravishing Maidens: Writing Rape in Medieval French Literature and Law (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
Hansen, Elaine Tuttle, Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992)
Kay, Sarah and Miri Rubin, Framing Medieval Bodies (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994)
Lees, Clare A., ed., Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in the Middle Ages , Medieval Cultures 7 (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994)
Lochrie, Karma, Margery Kempe and Translations of the Flesh (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)
---, 'Mystical Acts, Queer Tendencies', in Constructing Medieval Sexuality , ed. by Karma Lochrie, Peggy McCracken and James A. Schultz (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), pp. 180-200
---, Covert Operations: The Medieval Uses of Secrecy (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999)
Lochrie, Karma, Peggy McCracken and James A. Schultz, eds, Constructing Medieval Sexualities , Medieval Cultures 11 (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)
Lomperis, Linda and Sarah Stanbury, eds, Feminist Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)
Margherita, Gayle, The Romance of Origins: Language and Sexual Difference in Middle English Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994)
McAvoy, Liz Herbert and Teresa Walters, eds, Consuming Narratives: Gender and Monstrous Appetite in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002)
McCracken, Peggy, The Romance of Adultery: Queenship and Sexual Transgression in Old French Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998)
---, The Curse of Eve, the Wound of the Hero: Blood, Gender, and Medieval Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003)
Mills, Robert, '"Whatever you do is a delight to me!": Masculinity, Masochism, and Queer Play in Representations of Male Martyrdom', Exemplaria , 13 (2001), 1-37
Partner, Nancy, ed., Studying Medieval Women (Cambridge, Mass.: Medieval Academy of America, 1993)
Salih, Sarah, Versions of Virginity in Late Medieval England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)
Steinberg, Leo, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983)

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