Session Title

Corruption of Manly Men in Late Medieval England

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Medieval Association of the Midwest (MAM)

Organizer Name

Matthew O'Donnell

Organizer Affiliation

Indiana Univ.-Bloomington

Presider Name

Matthew O'Donnell

Paper Title 1

"He shall nat be hole longe afftir": Disabling Gawain in Le Morte Darthur

Presenter 1 Name

Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Northern Colorado

Paper Title 2

"Swiche Werk": Performing Masculinity in Sir Orfeo

Presenter 2 Name

Walter Wadiak

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Lafayette College

Paper Title 3

What Do Men Really Want? Desire in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Presenter 3 Name

Mickey Sweeney

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Dominican Univ.

Start Date

12-5-2018 1:30 PM

Session Location

Valley 2 Garneau Lounge

Description

Late Medieval England teems with stories of manly men doing manly things because chivalric excellence and homosocial worship was the cultural ideal; or was it? The titular characters of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight trade blows and kisses as pawns in a game masterminded by powerful women. Chaucer’s mercenary Knight brags about switching sides in battles to win extra fame and renown, while Malory’s knights tear the High Order of Knighthood apart in senseless blood feuds against one another. When even the greatest knights of late medieval legend are driven by their excessive humors and run wild into the forest, the pretense that these are paragons of excellence falls rather flat. This panel seeks papers to address these corruptions and aberrations in the behaviors of these seeming heroes and virtuous men. Papers should question the representations of masculinities in late medieval England: whether giants, eunuchs and dwarves, who represent physical alterations from a mean of bodily and moral perfection, or analysis of the behaviors of knights, heroes, and kings whose actions belie their said beliefs and corrupt their characters. How did medieval authors address the fracturing of a purportedly unified Self in late medieval England, where the ranks of aristocracy fell apart into civil war and the noble duty of chivalry descended into bastard feudal mercenary loyalties? With knighthood increasingly out of reach for the wider gentry and a burgeoning middle class of tradesmen upsetting the privilege of noble ownership of land and people after the Great Mortality, what were the consequences for images of masculinity in the popular imagination?

Alison (Ganze) Langdon

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May 12th, 1:30 PM

Corruption of Manly Men in Late Medieval England

Valley 2 Garneau Lounge

Late Medieval England teems with stories of manly men doing manly things because chivalric excellence and homosocial worship was the cultural ideal; or was it? The titular characters of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight trade blows and kisses as pawns in a game masterminded by powerful women. Chaucer’s mercenary Knight brags about switching sides in battles to win extra fame and renown, while Malory’s knights tear the High Order of Knighthood apart in senseless blood feuds against one another. When even the greatest knights of late medieval legend are driven by their excessive humors and run wild into the forest, the pretense that these are paragons of excellence falls rather flat. This panel seeks papers to address these corruptions and aberrations in the behaviors of these seeming heroes and virtuous men. Papers should question the representations of masculinities in late medieval England: whether giants, eunuchs and dwarves, who represent physical alterations from a mean of bodily and moral perfection, or analysis of the behaviors of knights, heroes, and kings whose actions belie their said beliefs and corrupt their characters. How did medieval authors address the fracturing of a purportedly unified Self in late medieval England, where the ranks of aristocracy fell apart into civil war and the noble duty of chivalry descended into bastard feudal mercenary loyalties? With knighthood increasingly out of reach for the wider gentry and a burgeoning middle class of tradesmen upsetting the privilege of noble ownership of land and people after the Great Mortality, what were the consequences for images of masculinity in the popular imagination?

Alison (Ganze) Langdon