IMC 2007: Sessions

Session 204: Wild Women?: Subversions of Conventional Femininity in Irish, English, and German Texts of the Middle Ages

Monday 9 July 2007, 14.15-15.45

Sponsor:Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Trinity College, Dublin
Organiser:Cordula Böcking-Politis, Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Moderator/Chair:Hugh Magennis, School of Arts, English & Languages, Queen's University Belfast
Paper 204-cThe Relationship between Impaired Beauty and Female Warriorship: Representations of the Amazon-Myth in Medieval German Literature
(Language: English)
Cordula Böcking-Politis, Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - German

This session aims to explore the subversion of conventional definitions of femininity and its political implications in medieval texts. The three papers, in three different literatures, explore the representation of women who digress from convention in appearance, behaviour, or social status, and ask to what end these representations are used in terms of historiographical, social, or gender politics. Swift investigates the historical model behind Queen Medb in the Irish epic Táin Bó Cúailgne, abandoning the Celtic warrior goddess paradigm in favour of the British Empress Matilda. Robson considers the dissident nature of women who embrace ugliness in the tradition of the Middle English ‘Loathly Lady’ stories. Politis examines the relation between deviation from normative female beauty and the assumption of traditionally male gender roles in depictions of the Amazon-myth in German courtly literature.