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IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 1510: Texts and Identities, V: Gender and the Body in the Early Middle Ages

Thursday 12 July 2012, 09.00-10.30

Sponsor:Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien / Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Universiteit Utrecht / Faculty of History, University of Cambridge
Organisers:E. T. Dailey, School of History, University of Leeds
Gerda Heydemann, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien / Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien
Moderator/Chair:Irene van Renswoude, Huygens Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, Den Haag
Paper 1510-aWomen's Occupations in the Early Irish Laws and Saints' Lives
(Language: English)
Helen Oxenham, King's College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Gender Studies, Law, Social History
Paper 1510-bNo Rules for a Whore?: Marozia in Historiography and Literature
(Language: English)
Nicola Edelmann, Institut für Mittelalterforschung, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien
Index terms: Gender Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Politics and Diplomacy
Paper 1510-cIn Sickness and in Health: The Body in Carolingian Medical Texts
(Language: English)
Meg Leja, Department of History, Princeton University
Index terms: Gender Studies, Medicine, Mentalities

What where the rules and norms associated with the gendered, female body and the social role of women in early medieval Europe? The papers approach this question from three different, original angles. Helen Oxenham investigates the similarities and differences between the activities in which women were expected to engage according to the Irish laws and saints' lives compiled between the 5th and the 9th centuries. Nicola Edelmann's paper approaches the problem from a 'reversed' perspective: it attempts to reconstruct the rules that governed the portrayal of a negative model of female sexual and marital conduct. Its starting point is the figure of Marozia (successive wife of Alberich I., Guido of Tuscia and Hugh of Italy). Considering medieval sources and later texts, it explores the consistency of the accusations brought against her and her incestous ways since Luidprand of Cremona. Are there rules for depicting such an allegedly promiscuous woman - and is it possible to develop a positive context for Marozia? The final paper by Meg Leja broadens the perspective and investigates the norms, rules and assumptions regarding the body, its physicality, and its functions as they can be reconstructed from the often neglected medical texts of the Carolingian period. It investigates the ways in which the body was understood to function, the ideal means of governing the body, and the guiding principles and social agenda of the medical texts. From these different angles, each of the three papers offers insights into the discourses that regulated the (female) body, its uses and its social meanings in the early middle Ages.