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Medieval Trans Studies (Klosowska, Bychowski, Goodrich, Gutt, & Maillet)

Updated: Feb 24

Trans people and non-cis cultures and artifacts are not only a part of, they shape and define the Middle Ages. Legendary saints and military leaders, theology, poetry and science, documented religious and regular people, mainstream fictional characters, allegories, mythological figures, alchemical and celestial bodies are part of nonbinary, gender fluid, trans, asexual, queer, non-cis, non-normative history. Medieval Trans Studies enable us to see that gender was variable and contingent in global medieval cultures. The scholars whose voices you hear in this podcast work not only on trans studies, but also critical race studies, disability, social justice and diversity in education and employment. They discuss the ethics of scholarship and the future of trans studies. Gabrielle Bychowski speaks on Eleanor Rykener, Micah Goodrich on Piers Plowman, Blake Gutt on Old French literature, Anna Kłosowska on Polish court depositions and Clovis Maillet on Byzantine, Latin, French, German and Italian trans saints, trans knights and trans historical figures. In the work of these scholars, specialists will find topics they can teach and research, and non-specialists can learn about the importance of recovering trans experiences, as well as how the medieval archive speaks back to modern understandings of identity. Drawing on literary traditions and documents from Byzantium to Rome, from France to Poland, this podcast episode is about the beauty and joy of trans.

Author information:

  • Anna Kłosowska is Professor of French at Miami University. Her recent co-edited collections include Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern, edited with Greta LaFleur and Masha Raskolnikov (Cornell University Press, 2021) and Disturbing Times: Medieval Pasts, Reimagined Futures, edited with Catherine Karkov and Vincent W. J. van Gerven Oei (punctum 2020). Her current project, Remarkable Objects in Medieval France: Silk, Metal, Ceramics, Paper, Ivory, reexamines medieval French cultural history through the lens of biographies of objects. She is the author of Queer Love in the Middle Ages (Palgrave, 2005), the editor/translator of Madeleine de l'Aubespine's Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press, 2007), and author of some fifty articles on medieval and early modern French, Occitan and Polish literature and the arts, with emphasis on trans, queer, transcultural and women's studies.

  • Dr. Gabrielle M.W. Bychowski is full-time English faculty at Case Western Reserve University. As the Anisfield-Wolf Fellow, she teaches courses on diversity and social justice. Her scholarship appears in TSQ (“Trans*Historicities” and “On Genesis”), postmedieval (“Trans Textuality” and “The Isle of Hermaphrodites”), Accessus (“Unconfessing Transgender” and “The Unfinished Hope of Gower’s Transgender Children”), as well as contributing to collections on disability studies and critical race studies. Currently, Gabby is occupied with a few forthcoming publications including a book project on medieval transgender studies.

  • Micah Goodrich received his PhD at UConn in 2020 where he currently teaches in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program and the English Department. He works on the resonances of gender, embodiment, and nature in premodern literature. Micah’s work has appeared in journals, such as Early Middle English, the Yearbook of Langland Studies, and Studies in the Age of Chaucer as well as in edited collections, most recently Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern. He is currently working on his first monograph, Chronic Bodies: Trans Natures and Premodern Temporalities, which explores the triangulation among nature, temporality, and (re)production to formulate a premodern trans theology of embodiment.

  • Blake Gutt (he/him) is a postdoctoral scholar in the Michigan Society of Fellows, working on a book project entitled The Trans Middle Ages. He has published on medieval trans studies and medieval French literature in Exemplaria, Medieval Feminist Forum, and postmedieval. His most recent publication is the volume Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography, co-edited with Alicia Spencer-Hall (Amsterdam University Press, 2021), which is a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards in the category of Transgender Nonfiction. Blake’s current project analyzes medieval cultural representations of gender transition and transformation through the lens of modern queer and trans theory, and traces the lineage between the two, contesting the common assumption that theorization of non-normative gender was absent from premodern thought.

  • Clovis Maillet is a historian and artist. He is the author of an EHESS thesis on medieval hagiographic kinship under the direction of Jean-Claude Schmitt (La parenté hagiographique XIIIe-XVe s., 2014) and a specialist in questions of gender and kinship in medieval visual and clerical culture. His book Les Genres Fluides, de Jeanne d'arc aux saintes trans was published in 2020, Un Moyen âge émancipateur (with Thomas Golsenne) in December 2021. With Louise Hervé, he has been performing, installing and making films since the early 2000s, and has published Strange Attraction (2012), Spectacles without objects (2014) and L'Iguane (2017).

Key Links:

For further reading:

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “The Unfinished Hope of Gower’s Transgender Children,” Accessus: A Journal of Premodern Literature and New Media. 7. 1. Article 5. Georgiana Donavin and Eve Salisbury, ed. 2022.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “Race and Sex: Conversion Therapy, Christian Conversion, and Chivalric Romance,” A Cultural History of Race in the Renaissance and Early Modern Age, Kim Coles and Dorothy Kim ed. Bloomsbury Publishing, November 2021.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “The Transgender Turn: Eleanor Rykener Speaks Back,” Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern, Masha Raskolnikov, Greta LaFleur, and Anna Klosowska ed. Cornell Press, 2021.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, "The Authentic Lives of Transgender Saints." Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography. Alicia Spencer-Hall and Blake Gutt, ed. Amsterdam University Press, 2021.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “Mad for Margery: Disability and the Imago Dei in the Book of Margery Kempe.” The Ashgate Research Companion to Medieval Disability Studies. John P. Sexton and Kisha G. Tracy, ed. 2021.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “Margery Kempe and Disability,” The Medieval Disability Sourcebook, Punctum Books, NY, 2019.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, "Visions of Medieval Trans Feminism: An Introduction,” Medieval Trans Feminisms. The Medieval Feminist Forum. Dorothy Kim and M.W. Bychowski, ed. Oct 2019.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, "The Necropolitics of Narcissus: Confessions of Transgender Suicide in the Middle Ages." Medieval Trans Feminisms. The Medieval Feminist Forum. Dorothy Kim and M.W. Bychowski, ed. Oct 2019.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “On Genesis: Transgender and Sub-Creation,” Transgender Studies Quarterly (TSQ): Trans Theology Special Issue, Max Strassfeld ed. Duke University Press, Aug. 2019.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “Trans*historicities” Roundtable,” Transgender Studies Quarterly (TSQ): Trans*historicities Special Issue, Leah DeVun & Zeb Tortorici, ed. Duke University Press, Nov. 2018.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “Trans Textuality: Dysphoria in the Depths of Medieval Skin.” Queer Manuscripts. postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. 9. 3. Roberta Magnani and Diane Watt, ed. Oct. 2018.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, "Reconstructing the Pardoner: Transgender Skin Operations in Fragment VI" Writing on Skin in the Age of Chaucer. De Gruyter: Anglia Book Series. Katrin Rupp and Nicole Nyffenegger, ed. August 2018.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, “The Island of Hermaphrodites: Disorienting the Place of Intersex in Pilgrimage Narratives.” Medieval Intersex. postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies. 9. 2. Ruth Evans, ed. July 2018.

  • Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, "Unconfessing Transgender: Dysphoric Youths and the Medicalization of Madness in John Gower’s “Tale of Iphis and Ianthe.” Accessus: A Journal of Premodern Literature and New Media. 3. 1. Article 3. Georgiana Donavin and Eve Salisbury, ed. 2016. /accessus/vol3/iss1/3.

  • Leah DeVun's The Shape of Sex: Nonbinary Gender from Genesis to the Renaissance (Columbia University Press, 2021).

  • Micah Goodrich, “Maimed Limbs and Biosalvation: Rehabilitation Politics in Piers Plowman,” in Trans Historical: Gender Plurality Before the Modern, eds. Anna Kłosowska, Greta LaFleur, and Masha Raskolnikov (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021).

  • Micah Goodrich, Lines 2416-2430 in Beowulf By All: A Community Translation and Workbook eds. Elaine Trehearne and Jean Abbott (ARC Humanities Press, June 2021).

  • Micah Goodrich , Mary Rambaran-Olm and M. Breann Leake, “Medieval Studies: The Stakes of the Field” Introduction to “Race, Revulsion, and Revolution in Medieval Studies,” postmedieval 11.4 (2020).

  • Micah Goodrich, “Ycrammed ful of cloutes and of bones: Chaucer’s Queer Cavities,” in Medieval Futurity: Essays for the Future of a Queer Medieval Studies, eds. Will Rogers and Christopher Michael Roman. New Queer Medievalisms Series (De Gruyter, Medieval Institute Publications, Nov 2020)

  • Micah Goodrich, “The Owl and the Nightingale, Animacy, and Species Division,” Early Middle English 2.1 (2020): 1-31.

  • Micah Goodrich, “Lolling and the Suspension of Salvation in Piers Plowman,” Yearbook of Langland Studies 33 (2019): 13-42.

  • Micah Goodrich, “The Medingen Manuscripts at Harvard: Houghton Library’s MS Lat 395 and MS Lat 440,” Harvard Library Bulletin 28.2 (2019): 1-56, with Gennifer Dorgan, Laura Godfrey, Henrike Lähnemann, Joseph Leake.

  • Micah Goodrich, “Medical Violence and the ‘Miracle of the Black Leg’,” Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, October 8th.

  • Micah Goodrich, “Limb,” in Medieval Disability Glossary: Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages.

  • Micah Goodrich, “Heat map of the Distribution of the Medingen Manuscripts in 1542 (ringed) and in 2017,” in Henrike Lähnemann, “From Devotional Aids to Antiquarian Objects: The Prayer Books of Medingen,” in Reading Books as Cultural Objects, ed. Evanghelia Stead. (Palgrave, 2018)

  • Micah Goodrich, ed., postmedieval 11.4 (Fall 2020), 10th Anniversary Edition, Topic: “Race, Revulsion, and Revolution in Medieval Studies”

  • Micah Goodrich, Collaborative Editor, Old English Collaborative Education Online.

  • Blake Gutt, ‘Holy Queer and Holy Cure: Sanctity, Disability, and Transgender Embodiment in Tristan de Nanteuil’, in Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography, ed by Alicia Spencer-Hall and Blake Gutt (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021), pp. 223-244.

  • Blake Gutt, ‘Transgender Mutation and the Canon: Christine de Pizan’s Livre de la Mutacion de Fortune’, postmedieval 11.4 (2020), 451-58.

  • Blake Gutt, ‘Medieval Trans Lives in Anamorphosis: Looking Back and Seeing Differently (Pregnant Men and Backward Birth)’, Medieval Feminist Forum 55.1 (2019), 174-206.

  • Blake Gutt, ‘Transgender Genealogy in Tristan de Nanteuil’, Exemplaria 30.2 (2018), 129-46.

  • Greta Lafleur, Masha Raskolnikov and Anna Kłosowska, Trans Historical: Gender Plurality before the Modern (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021).

  • Clovis Maillet, and Thomas Golsenne, Un Moyen Age émancipateur, Même pas l’hiver, 2022.

  • Clovis Maillet, Les Genres fluides. De Jeanne d’Arc aux saintes trans. (Paris: Arkhe, 2020).

  • Clovis Maillet, La parenté hagiographique (c. 1260-1490), d'après Jacques de Voragine et les manuscritsenluminés de la 'Légende dorée' (c.1260-1490) (Brepols, Turnhout, 2014).

  • Clovis Maillet, Pierre-Olivier Dittmar and Astrée Questiaux, “La chèvre ou la femme. Parentés de lait entreanimaux et humains au Moyen Âge.” Images Re-vues 9 | 2011, UR:

  • Clovis Maillet, « Bernard de Clairvaux et la fratrie recomposée », Médiévales 54, Frères et sœurs Ethnographie d'un lien de parenté (2008), p. 13-34,

  • Clovis Maillet, “La filiation spirituelle doit-elle être illégitime? Accusation de paternité et transgenres hagiographiques au XIIIe siècle,” in Bâtards et Bâtardises dans les sociétés européennes,Moyen Âge et Renaissance (Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016), p. 393-403.

  • Clovis Maillet, “Alexis ou le saint divorce: un contre-modèle d'indissolubilité en lutte contre le lignage (XIe-XIIIesiècle),” in Martin Aurell, ed., Les Stratégies matrimoniales (IXe-XIIIe s.) (Turnout,Brepols, 2013) p. 291-3073.

  • Clovis Maillet, “A quelle anthropologie de la parenté se réfèrent les historiens ? L’histoire de la parentéspirituelle médiévale à l’épreuve des new kinship studies,” Faire de l’Anthropologie historique duMoyen Âge aujourd’hui, actes du colloque du 21-22 novembre 2008, L’atelier du centre de recherches historiques, 20104.

  • Clovis Maillet, “La maternité renversée. La charité romaine au féminin et au masculin à la fin du Moyen Âge”, in Joana Barreto, Jérémie Cerman, Gilles Soubigouet Valentine Toutain-Quittelier, Le visible et le lisible, (Nouveau Monde éditions, collection CIES Sorbonne, Paris, 2007), p. 183-211.

  • Alicia Spencer-Hall and Blake Gutt (eds), Trans and Genderqueer Subjects in Medieval Hagiography (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021).

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