Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8268
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Franc , Catherine.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Beastly pagan men and Christian virgin martyrs: rape in Anglo-Latin and Anglo-Saxon hagiography
  • 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): Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne Gender in Literature Martyrs Rape in Literature Virginity Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 8
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  • Abstract: In Aldhelm’s prose De Virginitate, Saint Thecla is assaulted by a mysterious band of executioners. Textual indices are ambivalent: does the band consist of lions, or human rapists? This ambiguity indicates an intriguing symmetry in the representation of gender in Christian hagiographic texts. Whereas the non-humanity and the unrestrained sexuality of the male pagan lowers him to the rank of beast, the purity of the chaste female martyr raises her above other humans. Set in the context of other representation of the beast-man in Anglo-Saxon documents (sermons for instance), this paper will explore such symmetries and their implications in texts such as Aldhelm’s De Virginitate and the Old English life of Saint Margaret. Drawing upon recent research into images of empowerment in narratives of female martyrdom (studies by Maud Burnett McInerney and Sarah Kay, for example), I aim to reassess a common motif in feminist readings of these narratives: the notion that exemplary women are praised for having masculine traits. [Reproduced by permission of Gender and Medieval Studies Conference Organizers].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Manchester
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2002.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: Not Available
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