History Book Club Presents Ruth Mazo Karras & Katherine Pierpont

Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing Unto Others
Event Date & Time
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A discussion led by department chair and professor of History at Trinity College Dublin Ruth Mazo Karras, and Katherine Pierpont, a UMN graduate student researching medieval sex work.

About the Book

Sexuality in Medieval Europe:  Doing Unto Others

(Penn State Press, April 2023)

Now in its fourth edition, Sexuality in Medieval Europe provides a lively account of a society whose attitudes toward sexuality both were ancestral to, and differed from, contemporary ones.

The volume is structured not by types of sexual interactions or deviance, but to reflect the difference in gendered experiences when sex is seen as an act one person does to another. Sexual activity, within and outside of marriage, as well as sexual inactivity, had different meanings based on gender, social status, religious affiliation, and more. This book considers these iterations of medieval sexuality in its effort to show there was no single medieval attitude towards sexuality. With an emphasis on Christian Western Europe over the entire course of the Middle Ages, it also includes comparative material on neighboring cultures at the time.

Alongside being reworked for further clarity and readability, the fourth edition offers substantial new material on trans scholarship and methodological attempts to recoup a trans past; changes in the treatment of sex work and its terminology; and new material on Byzantine and Muslim culture.

About the Discussants

Ruth Mazo Karras

Ruth Mazo Karras is a Lecky Professor of History and department chair at Trinity College Dublin. She is a scholar of medieval women, gender and sexuality, looking at the intersection of social and cultural history; legal history; the history of women, gender, and sexuality. Her many works on medieval Europe include Thou Art the Man: The Masculinity of David in the Christian and Jewish Middle Ages and Unmarriages: Women, Men, and Sexual Unions in the Middle Ages.

Katherine Pierpont

Katherine Pierpont is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota working on medieval sex work, who has published both in scholarly and public-facing venues.

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