Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Article of the Month

Indexers select an article or essay at the beginning of each month that is outstanding in its line of argument, wealth of significances, and writing style. We particularly look for pieces that will be useful as course readings.

September 2018 [Posted July 2019]

Eugenia on trial
Eugenia on trial. Jean de Vignay, Miroir historial, translation of Vincent of Beauvais, Speculum historiale, ca. 1335. Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Arsenal 5080 réserve, fol. 154r (detail). (Source: Gallica, open access)

Mills, Robert. "Visibly Trans?: Picturing Saint Eugenia in Medieval Art." TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 5, 4 (2018): 540-564.

Abstract: "What happens when medieval depictions of gender-crossing saints get refracted through a transgender prism? Focusing on objects and artifacts associated with St. Eugenia of Rome, this article considers the extent to which medieval artists confronted the genderqueer potential of Eugenia's legend. Often the saint was overtly feminized, patently obscuring her road to sanctity as a gender crosser. But sometimes the crossing itself was rendered at least partially visible—notably in scenes representing the moment when, after a period living as a male monk, Eugenia is placed on trial and forced to reveal her “true” identity as a woman. Some depictions of Eugenia may therefore resonate with more recent expressions of queer and trans identity. This prompts critical reflection on the concepts of passing and trans visibility in histories of transgender. [Reproduced from the journal page on the Duke University Press website.]