Although historians and scholars of vernacular medieval literatures have increasingly focused on constructions of gender, sex, and sexuality, specialists in medieval Latin have been largely isolated from such developments. Much scholarship on medieval Latin has remained grounded in the methodologies of the "old" philology. When readers from other disciplines have looked to Latin texts they have, in turn, used them mostly as benchmarks against which to measure the innovations of the vernacular.
The Tongue of the Fathers forges a stronger and more productive relationship between medieval Latin and gender studies. David Townsend, Andrew Taylor, and their collaborators focus on the representations and constructions of gender and sexual difference in a range of texts emerging from the centers of twelfth-century cultural prestige and power. In chapters on Abelard, Heloise, Bernard Silvestris, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Walter of Chatillon, they consider, on the one hand, the ways twelfth-century Latin texts constituted Latin as a monologic tongue in support of patriarchy, and, on the other, the sites of resistance offered by the texts to the very ideologies they ostensibly supported.