Queer Lessons from the Fourteenth Century
  • Richard E. Zeikowitz
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


I have been arguing that knights who kiss, express their mutual love, or form lifelong bonds with each other, or novice knights/male readers who conjure fantasy images of model knights, are engaging in homoerotic acts. If such behavior was not considered “queer” in the Middle Ages, what does it have to do with modern queer studies? If the effectiveness of the critical term “queer” is measured by its ability to “unsettle,” as Donald Hall points out, then does normative medieval homoeroticism challenge modern views of “normalcy”?1 Robert Sturges suggests that we ask “not only what specific constructions of sex, gender, and erotic practice were available in different periods and to different cultures, but also what historical effects such constructions may have had on later ones.”2 I would add, what can we learn about ourselves from studying medieval homoeroticism? And how might an awareness of possible erotic interactions between knights affect our society’s views of acceptable/unacceptable sexuality or eroticism?


Sexual Orientation Fourteenth Century Modern Category Medieval Text Erotic Orientation 
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  1. 1.
    Donald E. Hall, “Introduction: Queer Works,” College Literature 24.1 (1997): 3 [2–10].Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Diana Fuss, “Inside/Out,” in Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, ed. Diana Fuss (New York: Routledge, 1991), p. 3 [1–10].Google Scholar

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© Richard E. Zeikowitz 2003

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  • Richard E. Zeikowitz

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