Session 1401: New Voices Lecture: Feminist Medievalisms (Language: English)
Wednesday 8 July 2020, 19.00-20.00
|Usha Vishnuvajjala, Department of Literature, American University, Washington DC
In recent years, medievalism studies has tended to focus on nationalist, misogynist, or racist representations of medieval culture. Even studies of medievalism that focus on women have often considered women as exceptions in otherwise masculinist narratives, like the female characters in Game of Thrones. My talk will go beyond identifying instances of women's medievalism to ask what constitutes a feminist medievalism, and why such medievalisms deserve equal focus in our scholarship. Specifically, my talk will examine representations of post-medieval individuals' embodied identification with medieval women, historical or fictional, as an ethical practice that involves the experience or illusion of vulnerability. In contrast to prevailing theories of embodied, experiential, or participatory medievalisms, which focus on deliberate role-playing or other experiences that depend on a feeling of safety and are often rooted in nostalgia for a non-existent past, I argue that a qualitatively different practice of medievalism has long existed but been rendered largely illegible by gendered understandings of medievalism and periodization. Through a series of brief case studies, including medievalism in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, the 1937 film Kid Galahad, and recent and forthcoming women's writing such as Caroline Bergvall's Alisoun Sings, I will demonstrate that a focus on the embodied vulnerability at the center of women's practices of medievalism can help redefine the boundaries of what we recognize as medievalism.
Please note that admission to this event will be on a first-come, first-served basis as there will be no tickets. Please ensure that you arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Speaker: Usha Vishnuvajjala, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University, Pennsylvania