Affect and the Tomb in Robert Henryson's Testament of Cresseid

Elizabeth Elliott* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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The penultimate verse of Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid suggests the possibility that Troilus raised a monument in memory of his former love, Cresseid: “Sum said he maid ane tomb of merbell gray” (l. 603). Examining the political implications of this uncertain act of memorialisation, this article considers how Henryson's poem mobilises the reader's emotional response to constitute Cresseid as a mourned subject, whose subjectivity is recognised only insofar as it is limited to suffering and death. In doing so, the Testament also establishes a subjectivity for women that offers conditional tolerance predicated on respectable behaviour, contributing to the historical production of sexual respectability in exclusionary terms as the province of elite white femininity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-53
Number of pages19
JournalMedieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Testament of Cresseid
  • Henryson, Robert
  • affect
  • sexuality
  • leprosy
  • mourning


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