Faculty Advisor

Smith, Katherine

Area of Study

Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Publication Date

Summer 2021


As medieval scholars have started to study issues of gender and sexuality, more and more queer people are showing up in the source material. Unfortunately, these medieval sources often offer a dire and hostile picture of queer folk. One of the most important examples is Le Roman de Silence which creates a world of questions and ambiguity; the protagonist, born a girl but raised to be a man, grows to excel in the masculine arts, even attracting the admiration and adoration of the Queen. Furthermore, many medieval sources raise questions about the sexed body and societal conceptions of gender, where unacceptability is often more accessible than anything revealing deep anxiety regarding proper behavior. Finally, medieval authors and theorists questioned vulnerabilities in their cultural framework, often resulting in outbursts of hate and reactionary violence, which echoes a queer past. Queering these moments, particularly in Le Roman de Silence where the interplay between indeterminacy, queerness, and anxiety is so salient, shows us the importance of paying attention to -- and destabilizing -- societal anxieties, teaching us, in turn, to transgress the most important boundaries in our own society.


Chism Award


University of Puget Sound