Call for Papers – Reconsidering Consent and Coercion: Gender, Sex and Power in Global Medieval Literature

We invite proposals for papers contributing to two paired sessions to be submitted for the 2022 Gender and Medieval Studies conference. The conference will take place 5th-7th January 2022, and will be hosted by the American University of Paris (Paris, France). Participants will be able to join remotely and/or asynchronously as well as having the option of on-site attendance. The conference theme is ‘Resilience, Persistence, and Agency’. These panels will use this theme as a starting point to open up discussion about the interplay of gendered power and sexuality in medieval contexts. Specifically, they will ask: how can reconsidering coercion and consent across global medieval literatures expose the gaps in our perceptions of premodern sexual dynamics? How do individual expressions of persistence, resilience and agency subvert hegemonic power, and (medieval or modern) readers’ expectations? And how might engagement with overlooked or marginalised medieval sexual experiences challenge us to reexamine corresponding misconceptions and elisions in modern discourses about coercive relationships?

We welcome any papers considering consent and coercion in the global Middle Ages (broadly considered as the period 500-1500); topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Readings of sexual and/or marital negotiations, different forms of sexual coercion, sexual violence and its effects in literary texts from across the medieval world
  • Embodiment, agency and control in sexual relationships
  • Consent and its limitations in medieval contexts
  • Comparative approaches to consent and coercion across genres, cultures or literary traditions
  • The impact of intersectional models of power on sexual vulnerability
  • Atypical configurations of gender and power (for example, associations between masculinity and sexual vulnerability)
  • LGBTQ+ experiences of consent and coercion in medieval literature
  • Readings of sexual violence through gender, queer and/or disability theory
  • Affect and readers’ responses: interpretive possibilities of traumatic narratives
  • Literary depictions of sexual violence in dialogue or contrast with medieval legal or historical views
  • The limitations and/or opportunities of applying modern theoretical views of consent and coercion to medieval material
  • Pedagogy: teaching consent and coercion in the medieval literature classroom
  • Intersections between medieval scholarship and activist engagement

We encourage academics of all levels (particularly postgraduate students and early career researchers) to submit abstracts for papers of 10-15 minutes. We are open to considering papers for a round table format rather than a traditional paper session, depending on submissions. We welcome papers that seek to generate a dialogue rather than necessarily offering an answer to a particular research question.

Please submit applications containing the title of your paper, an abstract of 300 words, and a short biography by 1 September 2021. All applications should be sent to and For more information about the conference, see, and for questions about these specific sessions, please email Jane or Hannah.

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