Doing it in the Middle Ages: Sex and Pleasure

Did pornography exist in the Middle Ages? What about erotic fiction? How did people learn about sex, pleasure and reproductive health in fourteenth-century England? Answering these questions and more, this 2-hour evening seminar gives an overview of fourteenth-century depictions of sexual intercourse, focusing on prominent medical and religious texts as well as the writing and vocabulary of Geoffrey Chaucer and the conventional depiction of desire in Arthurian legend. We will discuss the idea of ‘courtly love’ and how it influences modern understanding of desire, sexual gratification, marriage and polyamory in the Middle Ages. We will also discuss the ethics of sexual desire according to Christian theology and natural philosophy. In general, the class will consider what it means to talk about sexuality and eroticism in pre-modern history.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (translations available online)
  • Troilus and Criseyde (translations available online)
  • Ruth Mazo Karras, Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing unto others, Routledge
  • Carissa Harris, Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain, Cornell University Press
$49 Limited

<p>Did pornography exist in the Middle Ages? What about erotic fiction? How did people learn about sex, pleasure and reproductive health in fourteenth-century England? Answering these questions and

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11 Oct

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