In 1993 Speculum, the journal of the Medieval Academy of America, published a special issue titled “Studying Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism.” It was a milestone in medieval studies, marking, belatedly, institutional recognition of the important contribution feminism and gender studies had made to transforming scholarly understanding of medieval culture over the previous two decades. Within the special issue, one contribution was by a man: Allen J. Frantzen's provocatively titled “When Women Aren't Enough,” in which Frantzen charted the shift from the “women in history” approach to the rise of gender studies, arguing that, following what he saw as the triumph of feminism, “the study of the `masculine' has become as crucial as the study of the `feminine.'” More than fifteen years later, the debates have moved on, the terminology and theoretical frameworks have changed, and the victories of feminism seem short-lived. The major developments of the past two decades that have transformed our understanding of medieval culture and society have been the growth of the history of sexuality as a (sub)discipline in its own right and the impact of queer theory on literary criticism. As Frantzen predicted so accurately, the study of men and masculinity has been central to these new movements. However, in this essay reviewing four contributions to the field, I argue that women and femininity have once again become sidelined. Increasingly the terminology of both the history of sexuality and queer theory has become gender exclusive: homosexuality has come to mean, in common academic usage, male homosexuality; gay history is gay male history; queer sexualities are all-too-often queer male sexualities. Women are not given equal weight to men, and the histories of male and female sexualities are still artificially separated.
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Book Review| June 01 2010
Why Men Still Aren't Enough
Crossing Borders: Love between Women in Medieval French and Arabic LiteraturesSahar Amer Philadephia:
University of Pennsylvania Press,
Sodomy, Masculinity, and Law in Medieval Literature: France and England, 1050–1230William Burgwinkle Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press,
Erotic Discourse and Early English Religious WritingLara Farina New York:
Sexuality and Its Queer Discontents in Middle English LiteratureTison Pugh New York:
GLQ (2010) 16 (3): 451–464.
Diane Watt; Why Men Still Aren't Enough. GLQ 1 June 2010; 16 (3): 451–464. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-2009-039
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