Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 30638
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Burger , Glenn
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: In the Merchant's Bedchamber
  • Source: Thresholds of Medieval Visual Culture: Liminal Spaces.  Edited by Elina Gertsman and Jill Stevenson.  Boydell Press, 2012.  Pages 239 - 259.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Essay
  • Subject (See Also): Bedrooms Bourgeoisie Bruyant, Jacques, Poet- Le Chemin de povrete et de richesse Domestic Space Husbands Marriage Menagier de Paris, Household Treatise Privacy Wives
  • Geographic Area: France
  • Century: 14
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  • Abstract: By the fifteenth century, the private bedchamber had become an increasingly common and elaborated feature of bourgeois households, as this newly emergent group sought to manifest its higher social status by appropriating aristocratic household arrangements. Late medieval bourgeois houses not only incorporate the public and semi-public spaces such as the hall, parlor, and garden that had traditionally identified the noble household, but they also seek to display by means of a separate bedchamber the possession of a quasi-aristocratic access to personal privacy on the part of their owners. The paper considers first the representational “undecideability” of the private bedchamber in this period and why it might offer an at once privileged and anxious location for self-identification on the part of bourgeois subjects. I then focus on two narratives that are framed by encounters between a bourgeois husband and wife within the privacy of their bedchambers: Jacques Bruyant’s 1342 Le Chemin de povreté et de richesse (or The Way and Direction of Poverty and Riches) and the anonymous c. 1394 Le Menagier de Paris (or The Parisian Household Book). I argue that both texts represent the bourgeois private bedchamber as practiced space in order to understand how such fluidity might be particularly useful in representing the changing relationship of the lay married estate and bourgeois labor to the social. [Abstract supplied by the author]
  • Author's Affiliation: Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2012.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 9781843836971
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