Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 15275
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Abdalla , Laila.
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  • Title: Man, woman or monster: Some themes of female masculinity and transvestism in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
  • Source: Dissertation Abstracts Online, Accession Number NQ29865.
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  • Article Type: Dissertation Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Cross Dressing Femininity Gender Masculinity Virile Women Women in Religion
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  • Abstract: This dissertation discusses medieval and Renaissance clerical and cultural constructions of femininity and female masculinity, and it analyses the complex relationship between such conceptions and the literary representation of the transvestite woman. Medieval theology legitimated female masculinity as~~transcendence of temporal sexuality. A woman who contained her affective femininity and replaced it with rational and ascetic behaviour was frequently lauded for having become male in all but body. In the middle of the first millennium, hagiographic legends abounded in which women appear to have embodied the patristic equation between spiritual rationality and masculinity. This dissertation proposes a radically different interpretation: the saint exchanges a sexualised form of femininity--ironically imposed upon her by a male society--for a non sexual but nevertheless feminine self valuation.~~~~Early modern culture perceived transvestism in a multiform manner. It signifies monstrosity in the polemical pamphlet, serves to indicate an estimable apex of humanity in Shakespearean comedy, and represents women in roles that range from monstrous disrupter to adept uniter in the works of such other playwrights as Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton. While the pamphlet's social commentary argues that masculinity rendered a woman monstrously unfeminine, the literature finds ways of interrogating~~definitions of the sex-gender system in a world which was constantly and fundamentally mutating. The drama~~employs elements such as inversion, monstrosity and transgressions of class to negotiate a society in flux. [The dissertation citation and abstract contained here is published with permission of ProQuest Information and Learning Company. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission.]
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  • Year of Publication: 1997.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 0612298651
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