The French of England:
Multilingualism in Practice, c. 1100-c. 1500

27th Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval Studies, Fordham University
Friday, March 30 - Sunday, April 1, 2007
At the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University

What Women do Together: ‘Queer’ Philology and Female Sexuality
Lara Farina, West Virginia University

This paper reflects on recent scholarship on gender and sexuality in 12th and 13th century England, particularly work that discusses the erotics of women’s devotional practice. It argues that the discourse of devotional eroticism is both multi-lingual and reflected in some surprising Francophone contexts, resulting in “queer” inter-textual relations, or dialogues that transverse boundaries of gender and language. As an example of a queer pairing, the paper will discuss Etienne de Fougeres’ Le Livre des Manières alongside the well-known guide to anchoritic life, The Ancrene Wisse. Although they would seem to have little in common, I suggest that these two texts are both participants in a specific conversation about female sexuality and enclosure.

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