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IMC 2016: Sessions

Session 1725: Constructions of Medieval Masculinity: Emotions, Eating, and Enforcers

Thursday 7 July 2016, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Katherine J. Lewis, Department of History, University of Huddersfield
Paper 1725-a'Dyrne Langað': Homo-Amory and Longing between Men in Beowulf
(Language: English)
Christopher Vaccaro, Department of English, University of Vermont
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Old English, Sexuality
Paper 1725-bEating and Fasting in the Construction of Manly Men
(Language: English)
Paul McFadyen, Department of English, University of Dundee
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Religious Life, Sexuality

Paper -a:
This paper attempts to better understand the expression of powerful emotion and intimacy surrounding the character Beowulf. A close reading of his departure scenes coupled with an analysis of philology provides insight into the Germanic articulations of love, respect, and bonding. From work done on the Männerbund motif and views on medieval irony, the paper brings in Latin source material, Norse analogues, and recent criticism. The paper includes an analysis of the 'hidden' or 'secret' longing between men and attempts to map that quality across a range of materials.

With feasting and appetite intrinsic to the construction of a masculine identity in medieval romances, this paper explores both excessive consumption and fasting in relation to the ideals of the male body set out in the literature of the period.

Where a healthy appetite and communal eating are necessary in portraying the importance of homosociality for a knight, how do phenomena such as anorexia mirabilis relate to notions of gender? Furthermore, what does the monstrous appetite of giants, those figures of extreme masculinity, say about the dangers of over-eating? This paper will address these two extremes.