Conclusion: Compulsory Queerness And The Pleasures Of Medievalism

  • Tison Pugh
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


If one defines queer as that which is subversive of or otherwise resistant to normativity, medievalists are a decidedly queer bunch. In privileging intellectual passion over other vocational and avocational pursuits, we resist the tide of anti-intellectualism prevalent in today’s culture and stake a claim for a decidedly atypical career.1 Although I cannot make vast claims about the personal values of medievalists as a whole, our decisions to enter the ranks of academia for the life of research and teaching generally bespeak a willingness to forgo materialism for less tangible benefits. In the quest for the cerebral pleasures of solitary study in the library, medievalists model an appreciation for the historical humanities that locates pleasure in the past, with all of its scintillating mystery. In such a light, we must appear at least somewhat musty, if not altogether anachronistic, against the cyber backdrop of the brave, new era in which we now find ourselves.2


Modern Reader Vocational Identity Academic Identity Medieval Literature Canterbury Tale 
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  1. 3.
    Kathleen Biddick, The Shock of Medievalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), p. 12.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    In contrast, Bruce Holsinger demonstrates that much postmodern thought depends upon a dialectic yet somewhat sentimentalized engagement with medievalism; see his The Premodern Condition: Medievalism and the Making of Theory (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    This dynamic is compellingly explored in such studies as Allen J. Frantzen, Desire for Origins: New Language, Old English, and Teaching the Tradition (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Alexandre Leupin, “The Middle Ages, the Other,” Diacritics 13.3 (1983): 21–31, at p. 30.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Introduction: Midcolonial,” The Postcolonial Middle Ages, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (New York: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 1–17, at p. 5.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Catherine Brown, “In the Middle,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30.3 (2000): 547–74, at p. 551.Google Scholar

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© Tison Pugh 2008

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  • Tison Pugh

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