Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
No Cover Image

Reconsidering Gender, Time and Memory in Medieval Culture

Elizabeth Cox
Liz Herbert McAvoy
Roberta Magnani
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt12879d1
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Reconsidering Gender, Time and Memory in Medieval Culture
    Book Description:

    The training and use of memory was crucial in medieval culture, given the limited literacy at the time, but to date, very little thought has been given to the complex and disparate ways in which the theory and practices of memory interacted with the inherently unstable concepts of time and gender at the time. The essays in this volume, drawing on approaches from applied poststructural and queer theory among others, reassess those ideologies, meanings and responses generated by the workings of memory within and over "time". Ultimately, they argue for the inherent instability of the traditional gender-time-memory matrix (within which men are configured as the recorders of "history" and women as the repositories of a more inchoate familial and communal knowledge), showing the Middle Ages as a locus for a far more fluid conceptualization of time and memory than has previously been considered. Elizabeth Cox is Lecturer in Old English at Swansea University; Roberta Magnani is Lecturer in Medieval Literature at Swansea University; Liz Herbert McAvoy is Professor of Medieval Literature at Swansea University. Contributors: Anne E. Bailey, Daisy Black, Elizabeth Cox, Fiona Harris-Stoertz, Ayoush Lazikani, Liz Herbert McAvoy, Pamela E. Morgan, Patricia Skinner, Victoria Turner, William Youngman.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-470-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. INTRODUCTION: IN PRINCIPIO: THE QUEER MATRIX OF GENDER, TIME AND MEMORY IN THE MIDDLE AGES
    (pp. 1-12)
    Liz Herbert McAvoy

    In her book,How Soon Is Now? Medieval Texts, Amateur Readers, and the Queerness of Time, Carolyn Dinshaw offers a protracted critique of the modernist temporal project and its deeply heteronormative legacies. Uncovering instead the myriad ways of ‘being in time’ as experienced within and through medieval texts, in her discussion Dinshaw also reminds us what knowledge of those multiple ‘beings in time’ is able to teach us about the contingency of temporality within our own era. As Dinshaw rightly points out, any close scrutiny of the ‘stories’ of the past – whether literary, historical or those countless blurrings between...

  7. 1 THE PITFALLS OF LINEAR TIME: USING THE MEDIEVAL FEMALE LIFE-CYCLE AS AN ORGANIZING STRATEGY
    (pp. 13-28)
    Patricia Skinner

    Based on the experiences I have shared with Elisabeth van Houts in compiling a recently published book of translated sources for secular women’s lives from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries,¹ this chapter examines the applicability of life-cycle as a structuring tool in the study of women’s lives in the past. Taking as its starting point what commentators such as Carolyn Dinshaw have identified as masculinist conceptions of linear time, as expressed in such schemata as ‘the ages of man’,² it will argue that the apparent order and linearity of a lifetime, and its expectation of smooth progress from one...

  8. 2 MEDIEVAL EXPIRATION DATING? QUEER TIME AND SPATIAL DISLOCATION IN AUCASSIN ET NICOLETTE
    (pp. 29-44)
    Victoria Turner

    An effeminate hero, an aggressive heroine and a pregnant king: at first sight, it is perhaps unsurprising to find an analysis of the Old FrenchAucassin et Nicolettewithin a collection where gender is a key consideration. In the twentieth century, scholars tended to focus upon the gender identities portrayed in thischantefable, with many maintaining the view that Nicolette, a Saracen princess-turned-slave, has decidedly masculine characteristics, and that Aucassin, a Christian prince, is rather pathetic in his amusing passivity.¹ Such approaches often emerge in discussions of the possible parodic or humorous nature of the protagonists.² The present study, however,...

  9. 3 REMEMBERING BIRTH IN THIRTEENTH- AND FOURTEENTH-CENTURY ENGLAND
    (pp. 45-60)
    Fiona Harris-Stoertz

    Late thirteenth- and early fourteenth-century English ‘proof of age’ records provide an intriguing glimpse into the often complex interactions of gender, time and memory in medieval society, revealing how women’s stories helped to create and shape the collective memory of medieval communities – something also posited by Patricia Skinner in the first essay in this volume. These documents record the statements of male jurors regarding the age of an heir to lands held directly from the crown, requiring the men to recall events anywhere from fourteen to twenty-one years in the past. On the surface, men, as the members of...

  10. 4 ‘IDES GNORNODE/GEOMRODE GIDDUM’: REMEMBERING THE ROLE OF A FRIÐUSIBB IN THE RETELLING OF THE FIGHT AT FINNSBURG IN BEOWULF
    (pp. 61-78)
    Elizabeth Cox

    The Old English poemBeowulfis about memory. The poem is found in the late-tenth-century MS BL Cotton Vitellius A.XV manuscript and is set in the sixth-century Scandinavian homelands from where the people who became the Anglo-Saxons had migrated in the fifth century. It is a cultural myth, a remembered story which endures because it continues to exert a hold over people’s imagination in its continuing capacity to absorb and interpret experience. As Nicholas Howe writes, ‘[a]s it survives organically within a culture and inspires its imaginative works, this myth testifies to the belief that the past can shape the...

  11. 5 REMEMBRANCE AND TIME IN THE WOOING GROUP
    (pp. 79-94)
    Ayoush Lazikani

    In the third book of hisLiber confortatorius, the Flemish cleric Goscelin of Saint-Bertin (c. 1035–1107) advises his beloved Eva, now an anchoress, to remember Christ’s suffering, resurrection and ascension in all hours of her existence.¹ Goscelin encourages the anchoress to engage in a relentless process of remembrance: a process designed to be painful and all-consuming, stirring the heart towards love of Christ. In Aelred of Rievaulx’s (1110–1167)De institutione inclusarum, the author discourages his biological sister, also an anchoress, from becoming a schoolmistress. Aelred foregrounds the threat that such a profession poses to her ‘memoria Dei’ (‘remembrance...

  12. 6 GENDERED STRATEGIES OF TIME AND MEMORY IN THE WRITING OF JULIAN OF NORWICH AND THE RECLUSE OF WINCHESTER
    (pp. 95-110)
    Liz Herbert McAvoy

    In the second section of her modernist novel,To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf documents the slow decay of the Ramsay family’s abandoned holiday home during the course of the First World War, a decay that unfolds imperceptibly in its cold solitariness. Both unseen and unheard, the slow deterioration takes on its own temporal and spatial dynamics:

    But slumber and sleep though it might there came later in the summer ominous sounds like the measured blows of hammers dulled on felt, which, with their repeated shocks still further loosened the shawl and cracked the tea-cups. Now and again some glass tinkled...

  13. 7 GENDERED DISCOURSES OF TIME AND MEMORY IN THE CULT AND HAGIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM OF NORWICH
    (pp. 111-126)
    Anne E. Bailey

    During the Easter of 1144, the body of a twelve-year-old apprentice leather-worker was discovered in a wood on the outskirts of Norwich. Although the mystery of William’s murder was never officially resolved, his death was blamed, by some, on the Jews. On the strength of this allegation, William’s corpse was appropriated by the cathedral priory at Norwich and, six years later, as memories of the boy’s death were fading away, the story was written up by a Norwich monk – Thomas of Monmouth – in the form of a hagiographical account. TheVita et Passione Sancti Willelmi Martyris Norwicensis(now...

  14. 8 RE-MEMBERING SAINTLY RELOCATIONS: THE REWRITING OF SAINT CONGAR’S LIFE WITHIN THE GENDERED CONTEXT OF ROMANCE NARRATIVES
    (pp. 127-146)
    Pamela E. Morgan

    In his introduction toBecoming Male in the Middle Ages, Jeffery Jerome Cohen argues that ‘gender, like time and space, is continually negotiated, continually in the act of becoming’. In his discussion of ‘how ideas and ideologies of masculinity were regarded and elaborated in the Middle Ages’ he suggests that such elaborations offer ‘moments in which we can observe the performance of masculinity and masculinity in performance’.¹ This essay proposes that the twelfth-centuryvitaof the sixth-century Saint Congar, dismissed by theOxford Dictionary of Saintsas ‘concocted at Wells’ and as ‘a hotch-potch of hagiographical and folkloric elements mainly...

  15. 9 A MAN OUT OF TIME: JOSEPH, TIME AND SPACE IN THE N-TOWN MARIAN PLAYS
    (pp. 147-162)
    Daisy Black

    In December 2010, alongside theDr WhoChristmas Special and dysfunctional domestic fare ofEastenders, the BBC included Tony Jordan’s dramatization ofThe Nativity. Depicting Mary as a pregnant teenager threatened by stoning, the drama simultaneously acknowledged concerns regarding young motherhood in the UK and the perceived threat of religious cultures condoning the public execution of women for sexual misdemeanour. This projection of the preoccupations of a twenty-first-century audience onto a two-thousand-year-old narrative did not go unnoticed. Journalistic coverage debated the apparent ‘modernisms’ in the dialogue, accused the BBC of negative portrayals of Judaism and saw Joseph’s doubt as undermining...

  16. 10 DISMEMBERING GENDER AND AGE: REPLICATION, REBIRTH AND REMEMBERING IN THE PHOENIX
    (pp. 163-178)
    William Rogers

    The Anglo-Saxon literary record presents an excellent opportunity to interrogate and utilize modern feminist theory, while simultaneously paying heed to the early-medieval context of that literary production. The often-spectral presence of women in the poetic, legal and social record presents obvious comparisons to late-twentieth-century critical theories with respect to the social and linguistic construction of ‘woman’. Indeed, much Old English literature has proven useful to readings that focus on gender, sex and sexuality, and the role and place of women.¹ While female figures are everywhere in the corpus of extant Old English poetry, the hazy or incomplete presence of the...

  17. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 179-198)
  18. Index
    (pp. 199-203)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 204-204)