History | Medieval Sexuality
B343 | 2650 | Elliott

TR 11:15A-12:30P BH305

A portion of the above section reserved for majors

Christian theorists were convinced that human sexuality underwent
irreversible debasement as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve.  Their
negative assessment has remained with us until the present day.  This
course will grapple with both the origins of this negative bequest as well
as some of the anomalies of the medieval tradition.  For example, despite
the insistence that heterosexuality was ordained by God, the disparagement
of  physicality and women led to the institutionalization of clerical
celibacy in the West.  This, in turn, fostered a gay subculture.
Likewise, despite the theoretical insistence on a separation between the
sexes that was even present in the afterlife, these same theorists not
only praised "virile women," but occasionally celebrated cross-dressing in
female saints!  This course will examine the institutions and ideas that
dominated the construction of gender in the Middle Ages.  It will also
lend insight into not one, but many, "sexualities."  Two short papers (ca.
5pp. each) and two exams.