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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the prominence of “queerness” in music-related images in devotional books of the period 1200–1500. Musical and sexualized images in the physical margins of medieval books blurred the divinely ordained categories of society, reveling in the queering of traditional hierarchies by music and the sounding sexual body. The chapter first considers notions of queerness in music in the Middle Ages, particularly as it pertains to music’s conception, representation, and performance. It then explores the concept of queerness and sexuality before 1500 by referencing Christian legal texts and musical behaviors and practices that might have been construed as acts of transgression, and the distinct overlap of discourses relating to musical and erotic pleasures. It concludes with a discussion of clerics’ sexual identity, showing that the increased focus on celibacy threatened the distinction between men and women, and sparking a crisis in clerical identity in which masculinity figured significantly.

Keywords: queerness, devotional books, clerics, music, sexual body, sexuality, sexual pleasure, sexual identity, celibacy, masculinity

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