a1 King's College London (e-mail: email@example.com)
It has long been remarked by historians of sexuality that sodomy is an incoherent category. Michel Foucault has insisted on the concept's “utterly confused” status; Jonathan Goldberg has mediated between highlighting sodomy's categorical confusions in Renaissance England and deployments of the category in modern contexts (especially in North America) that continue to be precarious; Alan Bray has emphasized how sodomy emerges into visibility only through discursive performance, on the bodies of those who disrupt social and religious stability; and Mark Jordan has traced the category's development in the moral theology of the Church and draws attention to its incoherences and illogicalities, even at the moment of its invention. Yet impossible as it might seem, under the circumstances, to pin it down to particular bodies and pleasures, scholars continue to be drawn to the question of sodomy's relationship to what we now call homosexuality, whether as a distinct identity or as a variety of erotic practice. This article considers a cluster of images in a set of medieval illuminated manuscripts that expose what is at stake when we address such issues with reference to visual as well as textual examples.
(Online publication June 13 2012)
Robert Mills is a Senior Lecturer in the English Department at King's College London (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
I wish to express thanks to the following for illustrative material and permission to reproduce it: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Figs. ; Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, , , , and ; British Library, London (© British Library Board), Figs. and ; M. Moleiro Editor (© M. Moleiro Editor, Bible of Saint Louis, vols. 1 and 3, http://www.moleiro.com/), and ; and Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Figs. . , , , and can be viewed in color in the online version of this article.
Initial work on this project was made possible by a research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, which also generously funded visits to libraries in Oxford, Paris, and Vienna. I am especially indebted to staff at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek and the British Library, who enabled me to consult relevant manuscripts firsthand. Funding to enable me to present my work on the Bibles moralisées at international conferences was provided by the British Academy, and the English Department at King's College London helped with the costs of reproducing images. Papers based on aspects of the research were presented at the universities of Cambridge, Connecticut, Exeter, Miami (Ohio), St. Andrews, and Warwick, from 2005 to 2008; the International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, in 2005; the College Art Association Annual Conference in 2007; and the American Comparative Literature Association Annual Meeting in 2008. I wish to thank the audiences on each of those occasions for valuable questions and comments. Finally I am very grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their excellent suggestions.