The title character of Heldris de Cornüalle’s thirteenth-century Le Roman de Silence, raised as a boy because of a ban on female inheritance, achieves acclaim as a knight and minstrel before ultimately being relegated to a traditional feminine role when the deception is revealed and the knight becomes a queen. Although the text has offered prompted many fruitful analyses of its depiction of womanhood and women’s potential by scholars reading Silence as a cross-dressing woman, reading Silence instead as a transmasculine figure may offer new perspectives on Silence’s treatment of gender. This article explores the possibility of Silence as a trans man, attempting to identify potential benefits of trans studies as a lens through which to read the text and encourage further research along these lines.
Many thanks to Gabrielle M. W. Bychowski, Dorothy Kim, and the anonymous reader for their encouragement and feedback on various drafts of this article. Thanks also to the fellow panelists and audience members of the "Medieval Transfeminisms" panel at the 2016 MLA Convention where this paper was originally presented, whose knowledge and enthusiastic discussion helped shape this project in its earliest stages.
Copyright © 2019 the author(s)
Watt, Caitlin G. "“Car vallés sui et nient mescine”: Trans Heroism and Literary Masculinity in Le Roman de Silence." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality
55, no. 1 (2019)
Available at: https://doi.org/10.17077/1536-8742.2141