New Directions in Feminist and Queer Readings of Medieval French Literature: a Session in Honor of Simon Gaunt
Simon Gaunt’s research interests were remarkably varied: from Romance philology to psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, and beyond. This panel honors one important part of his legacy: his groundbreaking feminist and queer readings of medieval literature. Two of his monographs stand out in this regard. The influential Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (1995) offers a remarkably broad map of the ways whereby different genres—chansons de geste, romance, troubadour lyrics, hagiography, and fabliaux—both construe and trouble notions of masculinity and femininity. Love and Death in Medieval French and Occitan Literature: Martyrs to Love (2006) is concerned with the interplay of death and desire in courtly texts. It takes (deadly) seriously the magnetism of the idea of erotic martyrdom. In the spirit of Simon Gaunt’s relentlessly innovative readings, this panel explores new directions for the study of gender and sexuality in medieval French literary texts. What more is there to do, for instance, with “courtly love”? How might medievalists contribute to issues of particular interest in recent discussion of gender and sexuality, such as intersectional and decolonial feminism? Are there different zones of medieval letters to queer—or different ways of queering texts, in keeping with how queerness has been theorized as persistently, even endlessly, bent on stirring up trouble? Where should—or perhaps shouldn’t—we go in the study of medieval representations of gender and sexuality?