Accessibility statement

Transgender Embodiment: 1400 to 1700

Posted on 2 June 2023

We invite 20-minute papers on a range of topics and disciplines addressing transgender themes in 1400 to 1700.

Transgender theory has opened new means of understanding transgressive bodies and identities across history. The publication of works such as Trans Historical, Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography, and Leah Devun’s The Shape of Sex have particularly demonstrated the productivity of applying such approaches to historical works. In the wake of the Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies’ “Early Modern Trans Studies” issue, the importance and value of trans approaches to early modernity has proved self-evident and broader work is demanded.

This one day conference at the University of York asks how transgender theory challenges and reshapes our understanding of gendered embodiment in the late medieval and early modern period. Aiming to centre interdisciplinarity and intersectionality, this conference seeks to broaden the historical application of transgender theory and forge new connections in the field. Early modern understandings of gendered embodiment were often unstable, fluctuating, and troubling, although such bodies were also celebrated, wondered at, and eroticised. This conference asks: How does transgender theory reveal non-normative embodiment? How are the categories of age, disability, and race constructed in tandem with gender? How was gendered embodiment contextually dependent? How might trans approaches present new considerations of embodiment and identity?

We invite 20-minute papers on a range of topics addressing the period 1400-1700. Papers might address but are not limited to:

  • Trans approaches to disability, race, age, sexuality, and/or other categories
  • Intersectional uses of trans theory
  • Trans approaches to theologies of embodiment
  • New approaches to sex difference
  • New approaches to the history of medicine (eg, monstrosity and deformity)
  • Biographies of potentially transgender figures
  • Trans readings of art and literature
  • Trans approaches to early modern works outside of Europe

Papers might engage with medical literature, philosophy, religious writings, art, poetry, drama, prose, music, or other media/genres. We welcome applications from students and scholars of any career stage.

This conference will be held in person at the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. Virtual attendance will be considered in instances where travel is difficult due to, for example, international distance or illness/disability.

To apply, please submit the following to by 15 March:

  • Title
  • 200-250 word abstract
  • 100 word biography

Travel bursaries are offered to students and precarious individuals. These guarantee a minimum of £30 to those eligible, although more may be available contingent on funding outcomes. An announcement will be made when these outcomes are known.

Please contact if you have any questions.

Organisers: Dr Ezra Horbury, Dr Mary Odbert, Professor Kevin Killeen.