Book Cover

Courtly and Queer

Deconstruction, Desire, and Medieval French Literature

Charlie Samuelson

240 pp. 6 x 9
Pub Date: March, 2022

Subjects: Medieval Studies
Literary Studies, European
Gender & Sexuality Studies

Series: Interventions: New Studies in Medieval Culture

Order Hardcover $99.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1498-5
Order PDF ebook$49.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8197-0

Courtly & Queer ultimately demonstrates what queer scholarship still has to gain from a deconstructive approach … The book’s understanding of queerness is valuable not only for deconstructing the libidinal investments of courtly texts, but also for destabilizing the generic categories and (often teleological) historical narratives into which such texts are inserted. This is smart scholarship that repays careful reading and that gives literary historians, as well as queer medievalists, important food for thought.” —Emma Campbell, H-France Review

“The title, though accurate in a comprehensive sense, does not really capture the excitement that this book conveys or the full complexity of its arguments … Samuelson rubs text against theory so convincingly that their interaction seems natural, essential, almost eerily in sync. The writing is breezy, witty, conversational … This is a book well worth reading and then reading again.” —Bill Burgwinkle, French Studies

“Samuelson is a first-rate medievalist––intellectually rigorous and theoretically sophisticated in ways that enable him to push back against rigid disciplinary constraints and stale orthodoxies. His engagement with verse romance and dits as sites of rhetorical, fictional, and libidinal deviation will inspire scholarly debate for years to come.” —Noah D. Guynn, author of Pure Filth: Ethics, Politics, and Religion in Early French Farce

Courtly and Queer is masterfully written, ambitious, and provocative. Samuelson’s integration of queer theory into French medieval scholarship bears exciting new implications for questions of authorship, metadiscourse, poetics, and narrative.” —Deborah McGrady, author of The Writer’s Gift or the Patron’s Pleasure? The Literary Economy in Late Medieval France

In Courtly and Queer, Charlie Samuelson casts queerness in medieval French texts about courtly love in a new light by bringing together for the first time two exemplary genres: high medieval verse romance, associated with the towering figure of Chrétien de Troyes, and late medieval dits, primarily associated with Guillaume de Machaut. In close readings informed by deconstruction and queer theory, Samuelson argues that the genres’ juxtaposition opens up radical new perspectives on the deviant poetics and gender and sexual politics of both. Contrary to a critical tradition that locates the queer Middle Ages at the margins of these courtly genres, Courtly and Queer emphasizes an unflagging queerness that is inseparable from poetic indeterminacy and that inhabits the core of a literary tradition usually assumed to be conservative and patriarchal. Ultimately, Courtly and Queer contends that one facet of texts commonly referred to as their “courtliness”—namely, their literary sophistication—powerfully overlaps with modern conceptions of queerness.

Charlie Samuelson is an Assistant Professor of French at the University of Colorado–Boulder.



Introduction    Verse Romances and Dits, Poetic and Sexual Indeterminacy

Chapter 1        Reflexive, Ambivalent, Queer Subjects

Chapter 2        Medieval Metalepsis: Queering Narrative Poetics

Chapter 3        On Sameness, Difference, and Textualizing Desire: Queering Lyric Insertion

Chapter 4        Queer Irony in Chrétien de Troyes and Guillaume de Machaut

Coda    Slashes



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