Sex and the city: medieval London

Course Dates: 03/08/18
Time: 11:00 - 16:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Vanessa King

Where were the red light districts? What was the going rate for a prostitute? Using the example of John Rykener, the cross-dressing sex worker who called himself ‘Eleanor’, we will explore attitudes to prostitution and how it was managed in the City before 1500 CE.


What is the course about?

Prostitution between 1066 and 1500.

What will we cover?

During the medieval period the Church was responsible for morality and so we begin with a brief look at the medieval attitude towards sex and then move on to look at the evidence for prostitution in London. We will consider how the city authorities tried to regulate it.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Describe how medieval prostitution was dealt with by the city authorities and identify two red light districts
• Comment upon the career of John Rykener the cross-dressing prostitute and what it reveals about the sexual mores of the period.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an introductory course and no prior knowledge is required. A good understanding of English is essential.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

There will be an informal PowerPoint presentation with reading of contemporary sources as a basis for group discussion. Class discussion will be encouraged. You are encouraged to bring along/describe items you have read in newspapers/heard on radio/seen on TV you think may be of interest to the group. A reading list for further research will be provided.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no extra costs other than note-taking materials. If you wish to purchase a book on the topic I would recommend Ruth Karras Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England (Oxford University Press, 1996).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might consider continuing London studies by enrolling on any of the London history cycle of courses which aims to provide comprehensive insight into the development of London from Roman times to modern day.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HLW78

Fri, day, 03 Aug - 03 Aug '18

Duration: 1 session

Full fee: £39.00
Senior fee: £31.00
Concession: £17.00
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Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

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Please note: Different fees may apply for international students. Read full guidance.