Queer Theory and Late Medieval England

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Wan-Chuan Kao (Washington and Lee University)
Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

To our twenty-first-century sensibility, it might seem intuitive that there were queer people in the Middle Ages. Historical and fictional examples include Edward II, suspected of engaging in homosexuality with the nobleman Piers Gaveston; Joan of Arc, who cross-dressed; St. Eugenia and St. Marina, religious professionals who crossed-dressed and lived as men in all-male monasteries; and Chaucer’s Pardoner, whom the author famously compares to “a geldyng [castrated horse] or a mare” (Chaucer, 1987, 34, l. 691). However, the specific forms, categories, and names for these premodern queers—such as “man”, “woman”, “homosexual”, “gay”, “lesbian”, or “transgender”, among others—do not always or necessarily coincide with those in our current moment. While it is…

6038 words

Citation: Kao, Wan-Chuan. "Queer Theory and Late Medieval England". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 July 2023 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19668, accessed 14 July 2024.]

19668 Queer Theory and Late Medieval England 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.