IMC 2017: Sessions

Session 1605: Women at Sea, II

Thursday 6 July 2017, 11.15-12.45

Organiser:Rachel E. Moss, Université de Paris I
Moderator/Chair:Roberta Magnani, Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Research (MEMO), Swansea University
Paper 1605-aA Sea-Faring Woman: Gudrid and the Journeys to Vinland
(Language: English)
Elizabeth Cox, Department of English Literature, Swansea University
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Scandinavian
Paper 1605-bShipbuilders, Settlers, and Sailors: Viking Women at Sea
(Language: English)
April Harper, Department of History, State University of New York, Oneonta
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Scandinavian, Maritime and Naval Studies
Paper 1605-cMaritime Protectresses in the Mediterranean: From Artemis and Victoria to Lucia and Mary
(Language: English)
Jessica Tearney-Pearce, Woolf Institute, Cambridge / St John's College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Gender Studies, Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Maritime and Naval Studies
Paper 1605-dA Promise of a Safe Journey: Margery Kempe as a Talisman
(Language: English)
Einat Klafter, Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv University
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Maritime and Naval Studies, Religious Life

Tales of women at sea populate the realms of literature and history, as well as the shadowy space between fact and fiction. They call our attention to questions of agency and otherness. The sea can seem to be dominated by men in economic and martial terms, and the woman at sea is often set adrift by men who on land have ultimate power over her. But perhaps at sea, a woman enters a more generative and transformative space. The woman at sea is frequently unmoored, lost, vulnerable, her direction chosen by wind and fate. Yet the sea may also open up a more feminine, queer, imaginative space: the woman adrift in a place of transformation, negotiation and transition in which she can re-cast her sense of self. For women the sea is a space of otherness, but also a space where their identity can be imagined and performed. While the edge of the ocean is a boundary, the open sea seems boundless. It defies linearity. Thus, women in oceanic narratives can inhabit a different temporality than is available in narratives defined by land. They enter an exceptional space, a place where bodies need not be territories.