IMC 2004: Sessions

Session 320: Sexual / Cultural Differences

Monday 12 July 2004, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Katherine J. Lewis, Department of History, University of Huddersfield
Paper 320-aSexual Disorientations: Sex and Gender in Medieval Travel Writing
(Language: English)
Kim M. Phillips, Department of History, University of Auckland
Index terms: Gender Studies, Sexuality
Paper 320-bEyeing up Eunuchs: Western Perceptions of Byzantine Cultural Difference
(Language: English)
Shaun Tougher, School of History, Archaeology & Religion, Cardiff University
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Gender Studies
Paper 320-cSummon(er)ing Deleuze and Guattari
(Language: English)
Michael O'Rourke, Department of Modern English & American Literature, University College Dublin
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Sexuality

session grouped by Diane Watt (7/11/03):
Abstract paper -a:
When medieval travellers journeyed eastwards, whether in fact or in imagination, they carried with them deeply embedded ideologies of sex and gender. In a period prior to modern notions of ‘race’, ideas about sexuality, masculinity and femininity played an important part in delineating the boundaries between Christian self and oriental other. This paper seeks accounts of cross-cultural connections and clashes relating to sexual values. It focuses on early travel writings (John Mandeville’s book offers an obvious starting point), and explores their implications for later medieval western European perceptions of identity.
Abstract paper -b:
This paper will focus on an arresting aspect of Byzantine culture that Westerners found problematic: the eunuch. With the ‘fall’ of the Western Empire the tradition of the court eunuch became less familiar in the West though it continued to flourish in the Eastern Empire. Thus Westerners who visited Byzantium were forcibly struck by the existence of eunuchs. The paper will explore these Western reactions, and assess how they shaped Western perceptions of Byzantium itself (e.g. oriental, feminine). However I will also consider the ambivalent attitudes that might exist: Western awe of, as well as Byzantine antipathy towards, the eunuch.
Abstract paper -c:
With the publication of J J Cohen’s Medieval Identity Machines and Glenn Burger’s Chaucer’s Queer Nation in 2003, Delevze and Guattari have become increasingly important in medieval studies. In this paper I wish to explore the relationship(s) between Delevze, Guattari and medieval studies; queer medieval studies in particular. To do this I will be focusing on the sexual and textual erotics of Chaucer’s Summoner’s Tale.