Faculty Mentor

Dr. Elizabeth E. Tavares

Subject Area



Through reading sets of medieval love songs one can notice trends that are connected to the conventions of fin’amor or courtly love. Troubadours, medieval French poets, would compose and sing songs that reflect the trends of courtly love during the time period. Within the lyrics of these songs there are two main trends when it comes to the objectification of the female beloved. First, they spend a great deal of time in describing the physicality of the beloved, but make no inferences or connections to her interior life—going so far as to animalize her. Even when those beautiful features may be manufactured, their artificiality still supersedes her personhood. Second, they use the lyric technique of reprisal to formally reinforce sense of woman as inanimate. Using the anonymous “Alison” and Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Complaint to his Purse” as example cases, in this essay I demonstrate the techniques that effect this displacement of power, as well as how they are still prevalent in popular music today.


medieval poetry, English literature, gender and sexuality studies, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath, Sir Thomas Malory, Arthuriana