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Title: Representations of animality and sexuality in late medieval thought and culture
Author: Wingard, Timothy Steven
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 6505
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2020
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Representations of animals are ubiquitous in late medieval writings on sexuality. However, to date, little work has been done to analyse their meaning. This thesis addresses this lacuna by examining the role of animals in the construction and dissemination of ideologies of sexuality in north-western Europe c.1200-c.1540, focusing primarily on England. The investigation is organised into five thematic chapters analysing: 1) the development of Aristotelian zoology; 2) representations of animals and sexuality in adaptations of the biblical Flood story; 3) depictions of giants and rape in romances; 4) social and legal responses to bestiality; 5) the function of the hybrid in scientific, theological and literary discourses. In order to advance such a broad cultural investigation, this research examines a diverse range of sources in Latin, French and English, including scientific and theological treatises; instructional manuals for priests; literary works such as romances, versified biblical adaptations, and dramas; legal commentaries; court records; and parliamentary legislation. It also includes some analysis of visual material, viz. ‘profane’ badges and manuscript illustrations. This research uses an interdisciplinary methodology drawing primarily on History and Literature, as well as theoretical approaches from animal studies, ecofeminism and queer theory. In addition to the core thematic areas of sexuality and animals, this thesis also engages with other key sub-fields such as the histories of Scholasticism, Lollardy, medieval exegesis, canon law, and English civic drama. This thesis demonstrates that animals were fundamental to the development and reproduction of late medieval sexual norms. In particular, they played an important discursive function in the development of medieval ideologies of heteronormativity. As the first work of medieval scholarship to substantially engage with the intersection of animality and sexuality, this research proves the urgent need to consider the animal dimension in future studies on gender and sexuality in the later Middle Ages.
Supervisor: Goldberg, Jeremy ; McDonald, Nicola Sponsor: Wolfson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available