Skip to main content

IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 807: Entanglements across Time: Queer Perspectives on the Middle Ages and on Later Interpretations of the Middle Ages

Tuesday 4 July 2023, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Emma Fearon, Department of History, Nottingham Trent University
Paper 807-aClerical Hegemonic Masculinity in the Eyewitness Testimony of the 1170 Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket
(Language: English)
James Edward McHale, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Index terms: Ecclesiastical History, Gender Studies, Language and Literature - Latin, Mentalities
Paper 807-bConnecting with the Modern: The Queer Medieval (Mystical) Network by the Man Who Was Dorian Gray
(Language: English)
Wei-cheng Chu, Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures, National Taiwan University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Mentalities, Religious Life, Sexuality
Paper 807-cVi-te Elena querida em doce calma: The Case of Sóror Maria do Céu and Her Madre Helena da Cruz's Biography, 1721-1722
(Language: English)
Maria Pinho, Instituto de Filosofia, Universidade do Porto
Index terms: Language and Literature - Spanish or Portuguese, Monasticism, Religious Life, Women's Studies

Paper -a:
This paper will be a literary and gendered analysis of the construction of clerical hegemonic masculinity in the eyewitness accounts of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in the early lives or vitae. The study of masculinity in relation to the relationships of the eyewitnesses with Thomas is hitherto unexplored and unappreciated. The eyewitnesses present Thomas' sanctity as unquestionable, depicting him as undergoing a lifelong evolution of holiness and spiritual conversion into a new man. Thomas is shown to leave behind past adolescent faults and adopt the attributes of clerical hegemonic masculinity, on the road to his spiritual evolution's consummation at the martyrdom in a masculine act of self-mastery.

For reputedly homosexual writers who converted to Catholicism around the turn of the 20th century, they were arguably drawn to a form of Christianity that was predominantly medieval. Yet none of them were as elaborate in their references to medieval (mystical) figures as John Gray (1866-1934) in his works/translations. Taking these references of Gray's seriously, this paper argues that, as we try to discern their supposed significances for Gray as a person who has harboured same-sex feelings, this network devised by him may actually enable us to rediscover the medieval (mysticism) in a way that reconnects it with the modern.

Paper -c:
Between 1721 and 1722, Sóror Maria do Céu (1658-1753), a religious woman from the Franciscan convent Convento de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, placed in Lisbon, wrote the biography of another female and fellow nun, Madre Helena da Cruz. The manuscript is a very precious document as it reveals the baroque literary features from that period, but also grasps the spiritual textures lived in the monastic environment. Nonetheless, it enlights a very special and rare relationship between two female nuns as one writes the biography of the other, something unusual at that time, creating a network embodied in a fierce sensitivity and a strong bond of respect.