Medieval Misogyny and Gawain’s Outburst against Women in “‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - from original manuscript, date unknown.

The view has been gaining ground of late that the Gawain of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a knight renowned as ‘Pat fyne fader of nurture’ (1. 919) and as ‘so cortays and coynt’ of his ‘hetes’ (1. I525), degenerates at the moment of leave-taking from the Green Knight, his erstwhile host, to the level of a churl capable of abusing the ladies of that knight’s household (11.2411 -28).

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss: Heterosexuality and Its Consolations in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Tolkien

The famous line from that modern romance- “A kiss is just a kiss”- is the message the Gawain-poet gave his listeners six centuries ago.

Call for Papers: Moving Women, Moving Objects (300-1500) (ICMA CAA 2015)


CFP: Moving Women, Moving Objects (300-1500) (ICMA CAA 2015)

Men Who Talk about Love in Late Medieval Spain: Hugo de Urriés and Egalitarian Married Life

Clandestine marriage. Decretales  of Gregory IX

In the last third of the fifteenth century, Hugo de Urriés’s work can offer the modern reader a very rare and informative perspective from the points of view of social history and history of ideas.

The Reputation of the Queen and Public Opinion: The Case of Isabeau of Bavaria

Isabeau of Bavaria

This essay takes issue with a still common tendency to read contemporary criticisms of powerful women as straightforward evidence of their “unpopularity,” using as a cast study Isabeau of Bavaria (1371-1435), who was generally imagined to have suffered the scorn of her contemporaries.

Looking in the Past for a Discourse of Motherhood: Birgitta of Sweden and Julia Kristeva

St. Birgitta of Sweden

This essay explores two parallel trajectories of mythic retrospection: medieval “myths” of the Biblical past (like Birgitta’s prophetic visions), and modern “myths” of the medieval past (like Kristeva’s survey).

Judging Female Judges: Sir John Fortescue’s Vision of Women as Judges in De Natura Legis Naturae

John Fortescue Lord Chief Justice(1395-1485)

Judging Female Judges: Sir John Fortescue’s Vision of Women as Judges in De Natura Legis Naturae  Emma Hawkes Limina, Volume 8, (2002) Abstract The fifteenth-century English legal commentary, De Natura Legis Naturae, is probably the most obscure of Sir John Fortescue’s renowned writings. Fortescue’s text examines female authority more explicitly than his other writings, there has, […]

Transvestite Knights: Men and Women Cross-dressing in Medieval Literature


In this thesis, I will look at mainly French and German texts from the 12th to the 15th centuries which deal with the subject of cross-dressers in the decidedly masculine domain of the knight. There are many tales of cross-dressing, particularly of women, but the concept of men dressing as women while jousting, and women dressing as knights, brings up several questions about the clothes, what it meant to be male and female, and how cross-dressing could be viewed on the tournament field.

Fasting and the female body : from the ascetic to the pathological


Importantly, the dietary practices of the early Christians cannot be understood as a single corpus of ideas or practices. It could mean going without food altogether, as in the case of one of the desert fathers, Simeon Stylites, who ate nothing for the whole of lent.

Julian of Norwich’s “Christ as Mother” and Medieval Constructions of Gender


Recent Christian feminists have revived an interest in women mystics and feminine religious imagery. In light of what most people generalize about medieval misogyny and about the veneration of the Virgin as a surrogate for a female divinity, Julian of Norwich’s trope of Christ as Mother seems even more remarkable.

Sisters Between: Gender and the Medieval Beguines


The origins of the Beguines can be traced to two important medieval religious reform movements: monastic mysticism and the vita apostolica, or “apostolic life.”

Mi Suete Leuedi, Her Mi Béne: The Power and Patronage of the Heroine in Middle English Romance

Medieval Arthurian Romance

The Middle English Romances are somewhat difficult to study as a group. In order to examine these works accurately, one must take into consideration other literature produced at the same tirne, as well as that which preceded it.

En/gendering representations of childbirth in fifteenth-century Franco-Flemish devotional manuscripts

15th century childbirth

Late-medieval representationsof the births of holy and heroic children invariably show a domestic interior with the new mother lying in bed attended
by female assistants.These images thus appearto show a `genderedspace’ in which women cared for each other and from which men were marginalized.

Christine de Pizan in her study


By the time Christine began the Cité des dames which she completed in 1405 she stated firmly that it had become the “habit of my life” to study literature (in which she included history) and as usual she was sitting in her cell. But how did this become such a habit?

New directions for early medieval women’s history?

medieval women

In what follows, I will be looking largely at the period 500–1000. There is a lot of vitality in late antique women’s history in the late antique period, springing ultimately from the twin roots of feminist analysis of early Christianity, such as by Rosemary Radford Ruether and Elizabeth A. Clark, and the work of authors such as Michel Foucault and Amy Richlin on classical sexuality.

Looking Back: Medieval French Romance and the Dynamics of Seeing

The Romance of the Rose

This dissertation builds upon the work of feminist medievalists and other literary and cultural scholars to argue that sight, and objects that are seen, articulate love relationships between characters in medieval romances, and that seeing is frequently a locus of resistance to gender norms the texts both establish and refuse to accept.

Medieval Feminine Humanism and Geoffrey Chaucer’s Presentation of the Anti-Cecilia


Perhaps the tale has been dismissed because, compared to the other tales, it appears to be simple and straightforward. Lynn Staley Johnson points out that “most Chaucerians hold that this legend could not have been written before about 1373” and further that “it is generally accepted that Chaucer decided to include the legend in the Canterbury book relatively late in the Canterbury period” .

The Wife of Bath: a Tragic Caricature of Women

The Wife of Bath

The Wife is characterized by a preoccupation with sex, which she uses to manipulate her husbands, of which she has had five, into acquiescing their land and money to her control.

How to be a Man, Though Female: Changing Sex in Medieval Romance

Mutacion de Fortune - Christine de Pizan

Gender participates in a series of taxonomies that structure the social order, and it therefore participates in processes beyond itself, such as Christianity and knighthood, which are equally about identity within the world of chivalric romance. Therefore, the inscription of one often helps to define the other.

The Empress in Late Antiquity and the Roman Origins of the Imperial Feminine

Empress Sophia & Justin II

This thesis seeks to explore the construction and conceptualization of the Byzantine imperial feminine, up until the sixth century AD.

The True Characters of Criseyde and of Diomede in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde: A Restoration of the Reputations of Two Misunderstood Characters Unjustly Maligned in Literary Criticism

Troilus & Criseyde 3

This is a defence of the characters of Criseyde and of Diomede based, inter alia, on a close textual analysis.

The Women of the Wars of Independence in Literature and History


My paper will have two main goals. The first goal is to survey the historical evidence available for the study of real women who were affected by the war…The second goal will be to consider the theoretical implications of the representation of women in a discourse produced entirely by men.

A Feminist of the Medieval Times: Chaucer’s Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales

The Wife of Bath

Chaucer’s characters take part in a story-telling contest while going on the pilgrimage. Among them, the Wife of Bath is an outstanding woman who seems not to be a typical figure in the medieval times.

Triangles of the Sacred Sisterhood

Courtly Love

In courtly works, the resolution is generally in favour of the status quo as a courtly adulterous affair rarely works out, while in the fabliau the marriage is generally left intact, although a deceitful wife may be given carte blanche to philander.

Madness and Gender in Late-Medieval English Literature

Removing Madness - Renaissance

Madness has been long misrepresented in medieval studies. Assertions that conceptions of mental illness were unknown to medieval people, or that all madmen were assumed to be possessed by the devil, were at one time common in accounts of medieval society.

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