IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 804: Marriage and Mothers

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Holly Barbaccia, Department of English, Georgetown College, Kentucky
Paper 804-aMarriage and the Cloister
(Language: English)
Linda Dorothy Brown, University of Missouri, Kansas City
Index terms: Canon Law, Religious Life, Women's Studies
Paper 804-bYour Mother's Memory: Celebrating Women in the Arabic Genealogical Tradition
(Language: English)
Maya Yazigi, Department of Classical, Near Eastern & Religious Studies, University of British Columbia
Index terms: Genealogy and Prosopography, Historiography - Medieval, Islamic and Arabic Studies
Paper 804-cThe Monsters of Marriage: Hybridity and Performativity in Medieval Matrimony
(Language: English)
Victoria Blud, Department of English, King's College London
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Old English, Language and Literature - Middle English, Social History
Paper 804-dUnpicking the Web: The Divorce of Ecgfrith and Aethelthryth
(Language: English)
Katherine J. Bullimore, Independent Scholar, Thirsk
Index terms: Politics and Diplomacy, Social History, Women's Studies

Paper -a:
Incorporating the stories of individual women, including Mary of Blois and Elizabeth Juliers, I will explore the interplay between marriage and the cloister. Though seemingly at odds, an examination of these two avenues for medieval girls and women reveals significant parallels, including the bridal imagery associated with the sponsa Christi as well as the legal overlap regarding age and consent. Additionally, chronicles, visitation records, genealogies, and charters demonstrate that legal and spiritual barriers were at times overcome or ignored when familial and political pressures required. As such, I will explore how women moved between marriage and the cloister – and vice versa.
Paper -b:
Aside from providing information about descent, Arabic genealogies often contain anecdotal material relating to some of the men and women mentioned in the text. This information usually pertains to a memorable occasion involving this person or to a glorious feat by the individual, whether very briefly mentioned, or slightly more elaborately told.
This paper explores stories that were recounted about women in a number of works of Arabic genealogy of the classical period. It isolates the types of deeds that women are noted for in this literature, and attempts to explain the choices made by the authors of these works.
Paper -c:
In this paper I will be examining the rites and economics of marriage in medieval culture, referring particularly to the development of marriage contracts and the performative character of the marriage rites. The spiritual, legal and economic features of the relationship of marriage, I would suggest, come to resemble hybridity more closely than union. This hybridity, as Stephanie Hollis argues, incorporates ‘the construction of women as essentially “other” and inferior beings’.
I will be looking at the significance of hybridity and otherness to both medieval marriage customs and to medieval concepts of monstrosity (for instance in bestiaries), tracing the development of this ‘construction of women’ from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the later Middle Ages.
Paper -d:
In 672 the marriage of Ecgfrith of Northumbria and his wife, St Æthelthryth, was dissolved on grounds of non-consummation. The historian Bede’s claims that Ecgfrith was reluctant to let his wife go are usually regarded as hagiographic convention, but might Bede have been right? The intention is to consider what reasons Ecgfrith might have had to want to keep up the marriage by looking at politics in the English kingdoms of the period, the importance of seventh-century marriage alliances, and what the consequences of dissolving the marriage may have been.