Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 5413
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  • Title: Now you see it, now you don't: Inside Jacopone's bedroom
  • Source: Seeing Gender: Perspectives on Medieval Gender and Sexuality. Gender and Medieval Studies Conference, King's College, London, January 4-6, 2002.. 2002.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Homoeroticism in Literature Jacopone da Todi, Poet Literature- Verse Mystics
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 13- 14
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  • Abstract: This paper is chiefly concerned with the devotional poetry of the Franciscan mystic Jacopone da Todi (d.1309). In one of his most scandalous poems, Jacopone composes an elaborate allegory of the nuptial bed and bedroom in which the devout soul will embrace his divine lover. What is new in Jacopone’s approach is betrayed by my pronoun: whereas traditionally this ecstatic union is one of bride and bridegroom, for Jacopone both figures are male. I hope to show how this uniquely homoerotic ‘rapture,’ always latent in the tradition of Song of Songs commentary, is in part made possible by a Franciscan intensification of an erotic imitatio Christi through the imitation of Francis. It is my contention that the heterosexualized hypermasculinity attributed to Jacopone by most scholars is merely a dilution of this redoubling. Moreover, Jacopone’s text makes this dilution possible: by calling attention to the textual devices which enable the poet to express mystical rapture, Jacopone risks both the reinforcement of this rapture in its singularity and its weakening through contextualization. To put it in a way more consistent with mystical paradox: is a disorderly order, or for that matter a sodomitic union with Christ, more orderly, more unitive? Or does the paradox neutralize the more unstable of its terms? In terms of visibility, does an erotic spectacle become less erotic, less spectacular, when it foregrounds its means of apprehension? Jacopone’s poetry forces us, as spectators and (perhaps) participants in the erotic scene, to choose. [Reproduced by permission of the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference Organizers].
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  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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