, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 491–505 | Cite as

Talking Turpiloquium: Gendering the Problem of “Spekyng Rybawdy” in Mirk’s Festial and Idley’s Instructions

  • Carissa HarrisEmail author


This article explores the gendered models of turpiloquium–illicit sexual language or “spekyng rybawdy”–in two late Middle English didactic texts, John Mirk’s Festial and Peter Idley’s Instructions to His Son. Whereas the most popular pastoral model of turpiloquium is between a man and a woman and leads to heterosexual intercourse, Mirk and Idley examine the vice as an exclusively intra-gender phenomenon, fully illuminating the unique problems and unexpected possibilities accorded to turpiloquium in late medieval England.


Middle English Language Gender Sexuality Pastoral Didactic John Mirk’s Festial Peter Idley’s Instructions 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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