Course Code
CMLT0030 / GSFS 0030
Course Type
Subject Credit
Course Availability

The literature of late medieval and early modern Europe is replete with social and sexual transgressors who have often been overlooked by scholars. This course explores a range of characters on the margins of social and sexual acceptability in order to re-evaluate preconceptions held about matters of gender, sexuality, and social roles in the period 1200–1700. It places particular emphasis on issues of homosexual desire, sexual trickery and seduction, and progressive female characters and writers. Students may choose to study a selection of literary texts in the areas of prose, the short story, poetry, and drama.

Sample topics:

  • Saints and Sinners in Alfonso X’s Songs of the Virgin Mary.
  • Sexual Escapades in Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron.
  • The Outspoken Wife of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
  • Forthright Women in Gil Vicente’s Farce of Inês Pereira.
  • Sexual Seduction and Trickery in Juan Ruiz’s The Book of Good Love.
  • Go-Betweens and Sorceresses in Fernando de Roja’s Celestina.
  • Transgenderism and Transvestism in António Ferreira’s Bristo.
  • Sexual Misbehaviour and Deceptions in Marguerite de Navarre’s Heptameron.
  • Homosexual Desire in Richard Barnfield’s The Affectionate Shepherd and Cynthia.
  • The Female Rogue of Francisco López de Úbeda’s The Lives of Justina.
  • Swindlers and Tricksters in Francisco de Quevedo’s The Swindler.
  • Immorality Exposed in Francisco de Quevedo’s Dreams and Discourses.
  • Female Agency in María de Zayas’s Amorous and Exemplary Tales.
  • The Strong-Willed Nun of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s The House of Trials

These texts are available in English translations. However, if you do have some of the relevant language skills then the course can also be taught using the original texts: contact the Senior Tutor to discuss this.