Sophus Bugge Annual Lecture: Perfect Men? The Nine Worthies and Medieval Masculinity

Talk on nine great heroes, or "Nine Worthies" of medieval art and literature, by Professor Ruth Mazo Karras, Trinity College Dublin.

Professor Ruth Mazo Karras, Trinity College Dublin. Photo: Private

Professor Ruth Mazo Karras, Trinity College Dublin. Photo: Private

The masculine virtues of the "Nine Worthies"

Beginning in the early fourteenth century, the ‘Nine Worthies’ became a popular theme in medieval art and literature. These nine great heroes epitomised the masculine virtue of prowess.

This lecture will discuss what other virtues they represented and what virtues were missing. Ideal manhood could differ significantly across different social groups within western European Christian society, but this lecture argues that there were important shared features. Even depicting pagans and Jews as well as Christians, and in non-ecclesiastical contexts, the Nine Worthies present a vision of exemplary masculinity that includes ideas about the crusade, and about women as sexual temptations.

About the speaker

Ruth Mazo Karras is the Lecky Professor of Medieval History at Trinity College Dublin. Previously she was a Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

She is the President of the Medieval Academy of America, and General Editor of the Middle Ages Series of the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is a former Co-Editor of Gender & History and member of the editorial board of the American Historical Review. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and EURIAS.

She has written books and articles on a wide variety of subjects in the history of gender and sexuality, including

  • Unmarriages: Women, Men, and Sexual Unions in Medieval Europe
  • From Boys to Men: Formations of Masculinity in Later Medieval Europe
  • Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England
  • Medieval European Sexualities: Doing Unto Others (now in 3rd edition)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (co-editor)

She is also the author of Slavery and Society in Medieval Scandinavia and co-editor of Entangled Histories: Knowledge, Authority, and Jewish Culture in the Thirteenth Century and Law and the Illicit in Medieval Society.

Sophus Bugge Annual Lecture

Sophus Bugge is a foundational figure for the study of Scandinavian, and most prominently

Sophus Bugge - Photo: UiO
Sophus Bugge - Photo: UiO

Old Norse culture and language. The Sophus Bugge Annual Lecture series aims to present international and excellent research in the multidisciplinary study of the Scandinavian Middle Ages in the tradition of Sophus Bugge.

The event takes place in collaboration between the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies (ILN), the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History (IAKH), and the Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas (IFIKK) at the Faculty of Humanities, and the Norwegian School of Theology (MF).

Published Mar. 7, 2019 10:59 AM - Last modified Mar. 7, 2019 11:00 AM