The Medieval Gender Reading Group

Sponsored by TORCH

All scholars are very welcome to join this informal reading group for interdisciplinary discussion related to gender and sexualities in the middle ages. Graduate students are encouraged to attend. A free sandwich lunch is provided.


HUG IT OUT: Combatants hugged after competing in an authentic reproduction of a 14th-century tournament held by the Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts in Toronto Sunday. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Although ‘homosociality’ has become a critical buzzword, methods of creating and maintaining homosocial spaces in the middle ages have received little attention. Homosociality does not just manifest in a vaccuum: it is introduced, maintained, and developed in a variety of social contexts.We will also consider ways in which scholars outside the field of literary studies can use literary texts in their work on gender.

Meeting 1: Thursday Week 5: Gender, Agency and Space: Exploring Power Relationships in the Domestic Environment

In recent years, the exploration of gender has gone hand-in-hand with the study of material culture and the built environment, shedding new light on the ways in which men and women interacted both in the home and in the wider world. Yet much of this work, which has routinely associated men with ‘public’ and women with ‘private’ spaces, respectively, has suggested that high-ranking women, in particular, were disadvantaged by the spaces they inhabited and denied access to power. In this session, we will discuss ‘The Assembly of Ladies’- a late medieval dream vision, which explores the world of an all-female court. The text will be introduced by Rachel Delman.

Meeting 2: Thursday Week 8: Bromancing the Middle Ages

In recent years, the concept of ‘bromance’ – intense friendship between two men – has received a great deal of attention both within the mainstream press and the academy. Many medievalists have examined friendships between exceptional men, both real and fictional, in the middle ages. In this session we will look at the romance Amis and Amiloun, which has variously been interpreted as hagiography, queer narrative, and sceptical response to mainstream ethics. Please contact for more information and to receive the reading set for each discussion.

Location: Radcliffe Humanities Building (see map:

Dates and Rooms: Thursday Week 5 (20th Feb), Colin Mathew Room (formerly the Graduate Training Room), and Thursday Week 8 (13th March), Seminar Room, both at 1-2pm.