Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Heather Blatt

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Vernon Dickson

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

James Sutton

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Lacan, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Fletcher, medieval, medievalism, early modern, queerness, queer, homoeroticism, gossip, bonds, medievalism, Middle Ages, masculinity

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis is to explore queer interiority within the heteronormative social constructions of late medieval England. Queer interiority is not an occurrence of modernity, but rather a response to social constructions that date back to the Middle Ages. It is essential to account for queerness in the Middle Ages because authors like Chaucer promote the successive resurfacing of queer characters within heteronormative social constructions. Writing during the queer reign of Richard II, Chaucer constructs the interior identities of Palamon and Arcite as a reflection of the king and the political norms of England. Inspired by Chaucer, authors in the early modern period, such as Fletcher and Shakespeare, explore the queer propositions of Chaucer and reimagine his stories by extending the characters’ queer potential. This phenomenon is known as medievalism, which encompasses the transformations and retellings of medieval cultural productions in post-medieval periods.

Queerness in medieval and early modern literature occurs through desire, nominally, same-sex relationships; it exists in the mimicked normative relationship constructions of same-sex characters. To access queer desire, Lacanian psychoanalysis explains the signification of language in romantic discourse. His theories do not apply solely to heterosexual relationships, but also the “inversions” (as Freud would name it) that exist when two characters of the same sex desire one another. Through close readings of Geoffrey Chaucer's “The Knight's Tale” and John Fletcher and William Shakespeare's The Two Noble Kinsmen, as well as historical, psychoanalytic, theoretical, and analytical texts, this paper will account for queerness in medievalism.



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