The Pardoner Unveiled

  • Robert S. Sturges
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The dust jacket on my hardcover copy of David E Greenberg’s book The Construction of Homosexuality1 features a drawing by Dennis An-derson of two figures, shown from the shoulders up against a vaguely modern urban background; one figure has its (his? her?) hand around the other’s shoulder. The most striking aspect of the drawing is that both heads are heavily veiled in white cloths like pillowcases, whose folds, loosely clinging to their features, both reveal that there are invisible faces underneath the veils, and conceal what those faces look like. I notice that current paperback reprints of this book have an entirely different cover; perhaps this mysterious drawing puzzled other readers as much as it does me. Given the book’s topic, is it meant to suggest that there is an authentic face of homosexuality whose true nature is hidden by the veil of social construction, and that the relationships of gay people, more than others, are mediated by these social veils? Or have the veils actually made the depicted encounter possible, allowing the two figures to recognize their similarities in structure (or construction) as more important than their differences in detail? Gender itself seems to be at issue here as well: the veils prevent us from identifying the two figures as male or female, and perhaps this gender ambiguity, too, is to be seen as a component in “the construction of homosexuality.”


Gender Identity Gender Theory Imaginary Status Canterbury Tale Dust Jacket 
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© Robert S. Sturges 2000

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