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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Teaching Consent: Medieval Pastourelles in the Undergraduate Classroom


Students’ familiarity with the #MeToo movement, with its emphasis on multiple narratives of different kinds of violations, creates a valuable opportunity for educators to use medieval pastourelles to teach about long histories of power and sexual consent. Focusing specifically on the undergraduate medieval literature classroom, this essay argues for the importance of teaching pastourelles—a genre frequently overlooked by instructors—and outlines concrete strategies for doing so with knowledge, sensitivity, and care. It discusses multiple frameworks for teaching pastourelles, including connecting them to street harassment, intersectionality, or contemporary survivor narratives. It closes by discussing larger-scale strategies for cultivating a supportive classroom atmosphere and providing students with resources to navigate these difficult but important texts.

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