Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 31814
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Matlock , Wendy A.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The Feminine Flesh in the Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes
  • Source: The Ends of the Body: Identity and Community in Medieval Culture.  Edited by Suzanne Conklin Akbari and Jill Ross.  University of Toronto Press, 2013.  Pages 260 - 282.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Essay
  • Subject (See Also): Body Death Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes, Debate Poem Gender Literature- Verse
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 15
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  • Abstract: Contested dichotomies pervade medieval discussions of the relationship between the body and the soul. In particular, debate poems featuring recently deceased bodies that dispute with their souls depend upon the division of the disputants in order to teach how both together determine an individual’s fate. One such poem, the fifteenth-century A Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes, demands attention because it features, uniquely among Middle English and perhaps all debate poems, a female corpse. Thus, the poem provides insight into the relationship between femininity and carnality that is frequently asserted in medieval texts. I argue that in its dramatization of discord between a female body and the male worms that consume it, A Disputacione betwyx the Body and Wormes both relies upon misogynistic equations of woman with corruption and dissolves those simplistic binaries. It can be helpful to divide complex ideas into discrete categories—male and female, body and soul, living and dead—but ultimately the poem demonstrates that these divisions are more fluid and less concrete than they initially appear. [Abstract supplied by the author]
  • Author's Affiliation: Kansas State University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2013.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 9781442644700
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