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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1327: Medieval Networks of Emotions and Passions, II

Wednesday 5 July 2023, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Babette Hellemans, Afdeling Geschiedenis, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen / Wolfson College, University of Oxford
Paper 1327-aNetworking for Gain: Emotional and Economical Disentangling in Medieval Letters by Women
(Language: English)
Kenna L. Olsen, Department of English, Mount Royal University, Alberta
Index terms: Language and Literature - Middle English, Rhetoric, Social History, Women's Studies
Paper 1327-bPoe(tree) in the Pear Tree: Sexual Passions, Disability, and the Semiotic in The Merchant's Tale
(Language: English)
Caitlyn Salinas, Department of English, Texas A&M University, College Station
Index terms: Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Middle English, Rhetoric, Sexuality
Paper 1327-cThe Concept of Fear in the Emotional Community of Old Russian Scribes
(Language: English)
Svetlana Borisova
Index terms: Daily Life, Language and Literature - Slavic, Mentalities

Paper -a:
How were the medieval English material and emotional cultures influenced by women? By examining three late Middle English letters written by women (unpublished and holograph) this paper this paper explores medieval women’s intentional acts of networking, to increase their cultural status and capital - both economically and emotionally. These letters demonstrate that some medieval secular women engaged with their textual and material culture, not only because of familial interest or relations, but because of deliberate attempts to manipulate connections for personal, political, and material (economic) influence and gain. In individual epistolary circumstance, all three female writers, representing amongst them at least two arenas of medieval society, that of wife and widow, perform requests that act as emergent evidence of women writing to: disentangle perceptions of their own societal presence and connections of influence; and to articulate themselves into networks of emotional and economic security.

Paper -b:
My argument engages with feminist and disability theories to examine how pregnancy was conceptualized as a disability in the Middle Ages. I trace the discussion of pregnancy through time to preface my reading of Chaucer's The Merchant's Tale. Furthermore, I demonstrate how the young May weaponizes the disabling pregnancy and pica (pregnancy cravings) to rewrite a new narrative of sexual desire within her oppressive marriage to the much older and unsightly Januarye. I also analyze the relationship between the conceptualization of female sexual desire as threatening or menacing, and the patrilineal stress on the proliferation of heirs. I achieve this through synthesizing my own argument with other scholars' ideas on menacing sexuality and disabling pregnancy, including Tory Pearman, Alcuin Blamires, and Samantha Seal. Finally, I explore how the men in the story, Damian and Januarye, embody Kristeva's ideas of the semiotic and symbolic aspects of language, characterized as maternal and paternal, respectively.

Paper -c:
The paper examines the semantics of the concept of fear by Old Russian scribes. It is based on the most significant and the oldest original source of Old Russian history, the Tale of Bygone Years. The analysis of this text reveals that fear in the chronicle is mainly mentioned not to convey the experiences of the characters, but to perform certain functions. These functions include: denoting the situation of a miracle and the characters' encounter with something sacred; indicating divine intervention in the course of events (fear - punishment sent by God); giving the characters a negative characterisation. This paper also discusses some of the sources that have influenced the emotional community of Old Russian scribers. These are biblical texts and Byzantine literature.