Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 7125
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Cadden , Joan.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Are Sodomites Feminine? A View from Natural Philosophy
  • 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): Gender Homosexuality Natural Philosophy Pietro d'Abano, ScientistScience Sodomy
  • Geographic Area: Italy
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  • Abstract: At the invitation of an ancient text, Pietro d’Abano (1257-c.1315), an influential natural philosopher and physician, undertook to explain why some men enjoyed taking the “passive” role in sexual intercourse with men. His answers incorporate specific ways in which the men in question are similar to women, based on their anatomical and physiological traits. According to Pietro, men harboring such desires share with women their passivity, their defective nature, and their sexual insatiability. These features contribute to a specific typology of the men Pietro labels “sodomites,” as well as associating them with specific kinds of sexual acts. Although it renders each of the characteristics comprehensible in terms of the principles of natural philosophy, this account produces an incoherent picture of both women and the men who are said to be like them. The proposed paper will both lay out the scientific logic of Pietro’s explanations and explore the significance of their mutual inconsistencies. It will reflect the reactions of some of his readers as recorded in the variants and marginalia of the manuscripts. The results will illuminate medieval views of women and add a dimension to the picture “sodomy” developing from archival research and the practices of cultural queering. (For example, Helmut Puff, “Female Sodomy: The Trial of Katherina Hetzeldorfer (1477),” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 30 (2000): 41-61; and Glenn Burger and Steven F. Kruger, eds., Queering the Middle Ages (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).) [Reprinted by permission of the Gender and Medieval Studies Conference Organizers].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of California, Davis
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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