Colton, Lisa (2019) Music in the Margins: Queerness in the Clerical Imagination, 1200–1500. In: The Oxford Handbook of Music and Queerness. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 9780199793525

What might queerness mean when considering medieval cultural products? Certainly the term itself is a much later one, but the concept of sex, the body and sexuality as fluid and in play pervades much medieval discourse, from the theological to the fictional. This chapter seeks to examine some of the ways in which musical bodies can be understood as queer between 1200 and 1500. It focuses on the way in which musicians and their instruments are depicted, especially in the margins of devotional manuscripts: such sources largely originated within a celibate, masculine, clerical production context. Music-making is ubiquitous in marginal images, with examples ranging from the conventional to the grotesque and obscene, and sometimes involving hybrid men/instruments in which the player and the played become confused. The images suggest cultural understandings of the body that extend beyond binaries of male/female, lay/religious, human/animal, or of normative/queer sexual behaviours, desires and identities.

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