Sodomy, Masculinity and Law in Medieval Literature

France and England, 1050–1230

Sodomy, Masculinity and Law in Medieval Literature

Shedding new light on the representations of masculinity and same-sex desire in medieval literature, William Burgwinkle offers a historical survey of attitudes towards same-sex love during the Middle Ages. His studies of a wide range of texts reveal that medieval attitudes towards sexual preferences were much broader than usually conceded. Although most texts of the period denounced sodomy, Burgwinkle reveals how some also endorsed it, however inadvertently.


"This elegantly understated tour de force is lucid, accessible, and appealing. It should speak to a variety of readerships, all of them fit, even if some of them are few: scholars of medieval romance, of Old French and Anglo-Norman, of the Latin prosimetrum and the so-called School of Chartres, and of the twelfth century generally and that sudden profusion in nearly ever form of cultural expression often misleadingly called the twelfth-century Renaissance." - Larry Scanlon, Rutgers University

"warmly recommended" - Norris J. Lacey, Pennsylvania State University

"the author provides a well-rounded look at sodomy, masculinity, and law, not to mention marriage, femininity, knighthood, courtly love, and romance in medieval English and French literature." - Dana Polanichka, History, UCLA

"William Burgwinkle deserves immense credit for crafting a throughly grounded and critically refreshing argument about homophobic rhetoric and how it attempts to police the borders of gendered norms."
Adam Miyashiro, Comparative Literature Studies