“And much more I am soryat for my good knyghts”

Fainting, Homosociality, and Elite Male Culture in Middle English Romance

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Rachel E. Moss University of Oxford Rachel.moss@ccc.ox.ac.uk

Search for other papers by Rachel E. Moss in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access


In Middle English romances, public and semi-public displays of emotion are used by elite men to strengthen and promote hegemonic masculinity. This article examines how male fainting, as an act witnessed and sometimes replicated by an audience of men, serves to reinforce homosocial bonds, and to highlight the heroic qualities that make these characters capable of such deep, public sorrow. Late medieval patriarchy is dependent upon the homosocial bonding of elite men, and as such lionizes not only friendship between individual men, but also their collective unity as a body bound by social, political, and emotional ties. Fainting, as a performative act, provides a physical representation of both this collective identity and of specific virtues associated with male nobility.

  • Collapse
  • Expand


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 950 658 54
Full Text Views 32 8 0
PDF Downloads 49 21 0