Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 3941
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Dockray-Miller , Mary.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Maternity and Performance: Mary in the Old English "Advent"
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 34, 3 (Spring 2001): Appendix A: Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies. Conference paper presented at the Thirty-Sixth International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, May 3-6, 2001, Nineteenth Symposium on the Sources of A
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Advent Lyrics Exeter Book- Advent, Old English Poem Literature- Verse Mary, Virgin, Saint in Literature Mothers in Literature Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 9-10
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  • Abstract: The figure of the Virgin Mary has meant many things in many cultures. Literary and artistic representa-tions of the most important female in Christian narrative have been manipulated by a myriad of ideologies, religious and/or political, to define the appropriate positioning and agency of the feminine in culture and society. The Culture of Anglo-Saxon England, like most others, almost always presented or discussed Mary in positive terms, celebrating her for her humility and purity. "These representations, however, celebrate her as a passive and objectified - albeit positive -- maternal figure. Indeed, such passivity and objectification are integral parts of the overwhelming virtue of the Virgin Mary. One Anglo-Saxon text. however, reveals slippage from this norm of passivity and humility. In the Advent lyrics of the Exeter Book, Mary's ideal and idealized femininity does occasionally reveal its precarious underpinnings in metaphor and in its need to dephallicize the Mother. As Such, Mary of Advent and her son form a mother-child pair that both demon-strates and unsettles an oppositional mascu-line/feminine paradigm. In this poetic text. Mary's performance is matemal rather than traditionally femi-nine, and she acts as a powerful subject rather than an object against which the masculine can define itself. Such a reading allows a shift in the critical view of Mary from passive and humble to embodied and active, especially in the nativity tableau that closes the lyrics. [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation: Lesley University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2001.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
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