Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 8555
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Klinck , Anne L.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Poetic Markers of Gender in Medieval "Woman's Song": Was Anonymous a Woman? [The author examines five pairs of love-complaints, written wholly or in part in a woman's voice. The poems are drawn from Old English, Occitan, German, Italian, Galician-Portuguese, and Middle English. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Neophilologus 87, 3 (July 2003): Pages 339 - 359.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Anonymous Writings Chansons de Femme, Literary Genre Female Voice in Literature Femininity in Literature Gender in Literature Literature- History and Criticism Literature- Verse Love in Literature Women Authors
  • Geographic Area: General
  • Century: 10, 12- 13, 15
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  • Abstract: How does the gender of an author or a speaker manifest itself in medieval poetry? In addition to the obvious grammatical markers, are there other devices that might be called poetic markers? This question is examined in the light of previous scholarship, and then with particular reference to five pairs of woman’s voice love-complaints, two each from various cultural contexts. Two of the poems are by women, three by men, the rest anonymous. The gender markers which are not merely lexical or grammatical are culture and genre-specific. Nevertheless, there are a few more general tendencies, notably the linkage of maleness with movement and violence, femaleness with detainment and enclosure. This contrast is not to be equated with activity versus passivity, however: most of these women speakers are self-assertive – those in the women-authored poems strikingly so. Interestingly, the most passive persona is to be found in an anonymous poem with transferrable voice: the speaker changed from female to male by manuscript alteration. Nothing can be regarded as a reliable test of authorial gender – but there are no indicators that would align the anonymous with the female-authored rather than the male-authored poems. [Reproduced by permission of Kluwer at ]
  • Author's Affiliation: University of New Brunswick
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2003.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00282677
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