PeopleGraduate Students

Kersti Francis

Doctoral Candidate, Degree Expected Spring 2022

Queer Magic: Sodomy, Sin, and the Supernatural in the Later Middle Ages

CV (Updated July 2020)

Office: Kaplan 149
Tel: 310.825.4173 / Fax: 310.267.4339 / E-mail

Kersti Francis is a PhD candidate in English at UCLA where she works on the intersections between magic, gender, and sexuality in the Middle Ages and early English Renaissance (1100-1600). Her dissertation project, Queer Magic: Sodomy, Sin and The Supernatural in the Later Middle Ages, investigates discourses of naturalness vs. unnaturalness in medieval understandings of sodomy, magic, and gender. By examining a selection of twelfth-sixteenth century Old French, Latin, and Middle English allegories and romances through the lenses of queer, feminist, and gender theory, Queer Magic argues that medieval writers and thinkers used the super/preternatural to experiment with those gender performances and sexual appetites that contemporary theologians designated as sins contra naturam.

Kersti has also worked extensively on medieval histories of science, focusing particularly on the role of alchemy in the literary and philosophical culture of thirteenth-sixteenth century England, on depictions of Mary Magdalene in medieval and Victorian understandings of prostitution, and on the figure of the meykongr (maiden-king) in the Old Norse saga tradition. Her research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation, The National Science Foundation, the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and others.


  • C. Phil University of California, Los Angeles, 2018
  • MA University of California, Los Angeles, 2017
  • BA Bryn Mawr College, 2013


“Alchemy, the Liber Aureus, and the Erotics of Knowledge,” Medieval Feminist Forum (forthcoming 2021). Winner of the 2020 Best Graduate Essay Prize, Society for Feminist Medieval Scholarship

“Fetishizing the Past: Troilus and Criseyde, Sadomasochism, and the Historophilia of Modern BDSM.” Painful Pleasures: Sadomasochism in the Middle Ages. Dr. Christopher Vaccaro, Editor; University of Manchester Press (forthcoming 2021).

“Shoptalk: Overheard at Kalamazoo.” Public Books ed. Sharon Marcus and Caitlin Zaloom. Web, published 5/25/18. <>

Franciscans and the Elixir of Life: Religion and Science in the Later Middle Ages by Zachary A. Matus, and A Remembrance of His Wonders: Nature and the Supernatural in Medieval Ashkenaz by David I. Shyovitz (book review).” In Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2018, Vol.49, pp.244-248.

“Mirrors of Virtue: Manuscript and Print in Late Pre-Modern Iceland” ed. by Margrét Eggertsdóttir, Matthew James Driscoll (book review). In Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2018, Vol.49, pp.251-253.

Research Interests
History of Magic
Middle English Romance
Old French Romance
History of the Book
12thC Natural Philosophy
History of Alchemy
Gender and Sexuality Studies
Queer Studies
Medieval and Early Modern England
Renaissance Literature
Old Norse Literature

Interest Areas
• Medieval Studies
• Sexuality & Gender Studies
• Renaissance & Early Modern Studies
• Critical Theory