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Cross-dressing and Prostitution

Seminar and Essay Questions

  • In what ways was cross-dressing transgressive?
  • How did medieval society deal with prostitution?


Essential Reading

Bennett, Judith M. and Shannon McSheffrey, 'Early, Erotic and Alien: Women Dressed
as Men in Late Medieval London' History Workshop Journal 77 (2014), pp. 1–25.

Karras, Ruth Mazo, 'Sexuality in the middle ages' in P. Linehan, J. Nelson and M. Costambeys (eds), The Medieval World (London, 2018), pp. 246-66.

Page, Jamie, 'Inside the Medieval Brothel', History Today 69:6 (2019)

Further Reading

Bullough, Vern L., 'Transvestites in the Middle Ages', American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 79, No. 6 (May, 1974), pp. 1381-1394

Cohn, Samuel K., Jr., Women in the Streets: Essays on Sex and Power in Renaissance Italy (Baltimore and London, 1996)

de Pizan, Christine, Selected Writings, ed. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski (New York, 1997) [A useful collection of primary sources]

Dean, Trevor, Crime in Medieval Europe, 1200-1550 (London, 2001)

Ennen, Edith, The Medieval WomanLink opens in a new window (Blackwell, 1989)

Goldberg, P.J.P. (ed. and trans.), Women in England c. 1275-1525Link opens in a new window (Manchester, 1995) [A useful collection of documents]

Goodich, M. ed., Other Middle Ages: Witnesses at the Margins of Medieval Society (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998

Hadley, D.M. (ed.), Masculinity in Medieval Europe (Harlow, 1999)

Hanawalt, Barbara, ‘Golden Ages for the History of Medieval English Women’,in Women in Medieval History and Historiography, ed. S. Mosher Stuart (Philadelphia, 1987), pp. 1–24.

Herlihy, David, and Klapisch-Zuber, Christiane, The Tuscans and their FamiliesLink opens in a new window (New Haven, 1985)

Hotchkiss, Valerie R., Clothes Make the Man: Female Cross Dressing in Medieval Europe (New York:
Garland Publishing, Inc., 1996)

Irigaray, Luce, This Sex Which is Not One (Itaca, NY, 1985)

Karras, Ruth Mazo, and David Lorenzo Boyd, 'Ut Cum Muliere': A Male transvestite prostitute in fourteenth century London' in Kim M. Phillips and Barry Reay (eds), Sexualities in History: A reader (London,1996)

Karras, Ruth Mazo, Unmarriages: Women, Men and Sexual Unions in the Middle Ages (2012).

Karras, Ruth Mazo, Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing unto others (2005).

Karras, Ruth Mazo, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England (1998).

Karras, Ruth Mazo, 'Knighthood, Compulsory Heterosexuality, and Sodomy' in The Boswell Thesis: Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, Mathew Kuefler (ed.), (University of California Press, 2005), pp.273-86.
Kent, F.W., Household and Lineage in Renaissance Florence (Princeton, 1977)

Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel, Montaillou, trans. Barbara Bray (London, 1978)

Leyser, H., Medieval Women: A Social History of Women in England, 450-1500 (London, 1995)

McDougall, Sara, Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 (OUP, 2016)

Mate, Mavis E., Women in Medieval English society (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Neal, D. G., The Masculine Self in Late Medieval England (University of Chicago Press, 2008)

Otis, Leah, Prostitution in Medieval Society : The History of an Urban Institution in Languedoc (University of Chicago Press, 1985).

Paterson, Linda, 'Gender Negotiations in France during the Central Middle Ages: The Literary Evidence', in P. Linehan and J. Nelson (eds), The Medieval World (London, 2001), pp. 246-66.

Rocke, Michael, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance FlorenceLink opens in a new window (New York, 1996)

Rossiaud, Jacques (trans. Lydia G. Cochrane) Medieval Prostitution (Basil Blackwell,1988)

Sauer, Michelle, Gender in Medieval Culture (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)