- Department: History
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Tess Wingard
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: M
- Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
- See module specification for other years: 2022-23
Late medieval societies were obsessed with understanding and classifying sexuality, from didactic handbooks outlining the many branches of the sin of lust, to Aristotelian scientific treatises on the mechanics of reproduction. Medieval authors were deeply interested in both the biological/psychological nature of desire itself, and in its expression through acts, identities, and social relations. These cultural and intellectual constructions of sexuality in turn informed the lived experience of sex through their influence on mechanisms of social control and regulation such as the law and pastoral care. The aim of this module is to investigate medieval understandings of sexuality and interrogate the relationships between theory and practice in the classification and regulation of sex.
This module looks at sexualities in late medieval Europe from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Our main focus will be on the cultures of England and France, though we will also bring in case studies from Germany, the Low Countries, and Italy. We will analyse medieval theoretical approaches and lived experiences of sexuality through a diverse range of primary sources in translation, including conduct literature, court documents, gynaecological treatises, and letters, as well as the histories of their interpretation. We will engage with fields such as queer/trans studies, feminist historical methodologies, and other theoretical approaches to thinking about the intersection of sexuality, knowledge, and power. We will explore the major controversies in the historiography of medieval sexualities such as the nature of premodern sexual categories and the question of whether medieval societies can be classified as heteronormative or pre-heteronormative. We will further interrogate the field’s relationship to broader scholarly questions of identity, power, and the radical political potential of medieval studies.
|A||Semester 2 2023-24|
The aims of this module are to:
Students who complete this module successfully will:
Students will attend a 1-hour briefing in week 1. Students will then attend a 2-hour seminar in weeks 2-4, 6-8 and 10-11. Weeks 5 & 9 are Reading and Writing (RAW) weeks during which there are no seminars, and during which students research and write a formative essay, consulting with the module tutor. Students prepare for eight seminars in all.
Seminar topics are subject to variation, but are likely to include the following:
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Students submit a 2,000-word formative essay in week 9.
A 4,000-word summative essay will be due in the assessment period.
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Students will typically receive written feedback on their formative essay within 10 working days of submission.
Work will be returned to students in their seminars and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their formative essay during their tutor’s student hours—especially during week 11, before, that is, they finalise their plans for the Summative Essay.
For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.
For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.
For reading during the module, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading: