The article turns to Julia Kristeva’s writings on abjection to elucidate the Christian subjectivity that emerges from the Old English poetic life of Guthlac of Crowland, known as Guthlac A. The abject is defined as the other within the subject who is in the process of conversion from secular values and the Germanic past. The idea of conquest and colonial appropriation informs a notion of masculinity nascent in Guthlac’s subjectivity, masculinity that results from the abjection of ancestral secular identity by transposing it onto the demonic other, the destruction of which transforms and sanitises ancestral landscape.
A tension lies in medieval notions of gender between rigid binaries and a continuum of masculinities and femininities. The latter has been attributed largely to experience: medieval authors entrenched in ‘real world’ affairs expressed a nuanced view of gender identity. In the case of pastoral literature, however, authors did not simply reflect lived experiences, they also sought to shape them. This paper will investigate Jacques de Vitry’s portrayals of a gender continuum in which women can be both a cause of and remedy to the problems of male embodiment. This suggests a theory of gender rooted in comprehensive pastoral experience, but also one that was tailored to promote reform agendas of the 13th-century among both his religious and lay audiences.
Van den Seven Vroeden van Binnen Rome (12-13th century) is the Middle Dutch translation of the Old French Les Sept Sages de Rome and belongs as such to the wide pan-European network of Sages-texts. It is a frame story with a series of embedded tales and as a whole it shows and warns against the wickedness of women. The paper will focus on the construction of different female characters and the narrator’s comments on them. The central question will be what exactly makes these women dangerous and despicable.