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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Female Consent and Affective Resistance in Romance: Medieval Pedagogy and #MeToo

  • Author(s): Torres, Sara V.;
  • McNamara, Rebecca F.
  • et al.

This essay offers several pedagogical strategies for teaching medieval romance in the time of #MeToo. Drawing on the robust feminist tradition that has focused on women’s compromised consent in romance narratives, as well as on the insights of trauma-sensitive pedagogy, we offer a range of approaches for addressing literary representations of sexual violence in the classroom, with a focus on Geoffrey Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale and Franklin’s Tale, on Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, and on romances and novelle within larger story collections by John Gower, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Marguerite de Navarre. These teaching approaches seek to position students as critical co-investigators and to open up ways in which sexual and social consent participate in the formation of gendered subjects. We aim to problematize the power hierarchies dramatized in medieval romance texts, while also encouraging students to attend to women’s resistance and their survival.

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