Book Cover

Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature

Edited by Karma Lochrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala

304 pp. 6 x 9
Pub Date: July, 2022

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

Series: Interventions: New Studies in Medieval Culture

order Hardcover $99.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1515-9
Order PDF ebook$49.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8219-9

“This wonderful unification of female academic voices, spearheaded by Karma Lochrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala, is profound, intriguing and often emotive. … a beautiful ode to female friendship, both modern and medieval. Lochrie and Vishnuvajjala have created the foundations for a whole new field of research, while also aiming to shape our understanding of ourselves and our histories in a post-pandemic world.” —Emma Bairstow, Forum for Modern Language Studies

Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature is one of those rare collections in which each article not only stands on its own as a provocative piece of scholarship but also contributes to an integrated whole. The contributors, that is, have become collaborators in a shared argument, so that the volume models the social and textual work of women’s friendship that it explores.” —L.M.C. Weston, Modern Philology

Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature offers the reader a range of innovative ways for identifying and analysing textual evidence and representations of comradeship and camaraderie between women in the Middle Ages. These readings often involve being open to finding links between the past and the present and to reading the absences and gaps in the narratives.” —Diane Watt, Modern Language Review

“The significance of Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature cannot be overstated: it gathers some of the freshest voices in medieval literary studies to present some of the most transformative and inspiring work on women and gender to date.” —Holly A. Crocker, author of The Matter of Virtue: Women’s Ethical Action from Chaucer to Shakespeare

“Lochrie and Vishnuvajjala have put together an exciting collection of essays about female friendship. Readers looking for feminist interventions in medieval studies will find Women’s Friendship engaging and thought provoking.” —Rebecca Krug, author of Margery Kempe and the Lonely Reader

In Women’s Friendship in Medieval Literature, Karma Lochrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala bring together established scholars and new voices to illuminate a previously understudied but consequential element of life in the Middle Ages. Contributors focus on representations of women’s friendships in medieval European literature and their afterlives both to historicize them and draw out the finer nuances of the multitude of forms, affects, values, and ethics that emerge within those friendships. This volume examines works by Chaucer, Gower, Malory, Marie de France, female saints, and late-Middle Scots poets alongside lesser-known late medieval lyrics and Middle English romances to chart women’s friendships and their many and sometimes conflicting affinities with the cultural categories of gender, religion, politics, and sexuality. In addition to exploring the parameters of female friendship across a range of texts and historical contexts, contributors evaluate the political, religious, and civic structures negotiated in public and private and engage with the long history of theory and philosophy on friendship. The result is a theoretical and historical rubric for the future study of women’s friendships in medieval texts and beyond.

Penelope Anderson, Andrea Boffa, Jennifer N. Brown, Christine Chism, Melissa Ridley Elmes, Laurie Finke, Carissa M. Harris, Lydia Yaitsky Kertz, Clare A. Lees, Karma Lochrie, Gillian R. Overing, Alexandra Verini, Usha Vishnuvajjala, Stella Wang

Karma Lochrie is Provost Professor of English at Indiana University. She is also the author Heterosyncrasies: Female Sexuality When Normal Wasn’t and Nowhere in the Middle Ages, among others.

Usha Vishnuvajjala is Lecturer at Cardiff University. She is also the author of Feminist Medievalisms.


            Karma Lochrie and Usha Vishnuvajjala

Part 1   Varieties of Spiritual Friendship

Chapter 1        Female Friendships and Visionary Women
            Jennifer N. Brown

Chapter 2        On Love and Letters: Spiritual Friendship in Marie de France
            Stella Wang

Chapter 3        Friendship and Resistance in the Vitae of Italian Holy Women
            Andrea Boffa

Chapter 4        Sisters and Friends: The Medieval Nuns of Syon Abbey
            Alexandra Verini

Part 2   Feminine Space, Feminine Voices

Chapter 5        “Amonge maydenes moo”: Gender-Based Community, Racial Thinking, and Aristocratic Women’s Work in Emaré
            Lydia Yaitsky Kertz

Chapter 6        Women’s Communities and the Possibility of Friendship in the Stanzaic Morte Arthur
            Usha Vishnuvajjala

Chapter 7        Female Friendship in Late Medieval English Literature: Cultural Translation in Chaucer, Gower, and Malory
            Melissa Ridley Elmes

Part 3   New Modes of Female Friendship

Chapter 8        Cultivating Cummarship: Female Friendship, Alcohol, and Pedagogical Community in the Alewife Poem
            Carissa M. Harris

Chapter 9        “All These Relationships between Women”: Chaucer and the Bechdel Test for Female Friendship
            Karma Lochrie

Chapter 10      The Politics of Virtual Friendship in Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies
            Christine Chism

Chapter 11      Prosthetic Friendship and the Theater of Fraternity
            Laurie Finke

Chapter 12      Conversations among Friends: Ælfflæd, Iurminburg, and the Arts of Storytelling
            Clare A. Lees and Gillian R. Overing

Afterword       Friendship at a Distance
            Penelope Anderson

List of Contributors

Works Cited


Related Titles:

Book Cover

Inventing Womanhood

Gender and Language in Later Middle English Writing

Tara Williams