Date

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Adviser

Edwards, Suzanne M.

Abstract

This paper reads the insistence on shame in Alain de Lille's Plaint of Nature in light of the stringent regulation of deviant sexuality occurring in the twelfth century, mainly the Third Lateran Council of 1179 and the invention of sodomy as a category. Because of this juridical prohibition, much criticism of Plaint of Nature has suggested that Alain forwards an anti-sodomitic stance, especially because Alain himself participated in the Third Lateran Council. This paper argues that Alain is actually not interested in regulating acts contra naturam, but interested in showing that regulatory impulse is an ethical failure in so far as it seeks to cleanse normative sexuality of its shame. Alain's emphasis on the dreamer's, Lady Natura's, and the text's hermaphroditism reminds us that shame is constitutive of sexuality in all its forms, and that shame itself can be ethically productive.

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