Lindquist Published in Issue Five. This issue of Different Visions dedicated to the visual representations of female sexuality in medieval cultures originated in a conference session at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in But even accepting the premise, the topic presents problems, such as recovering knowledge about what was intensely personal and often intentionally hidden, and trying to discover something about subjectivity in the visual realm when the very act of representation objectifies people, both literally and figuratively.
Even when we do encounter a Hildegard of Bingen, Heloise, Christine de Pizan or Margery Kempe, we are aware that their voices only come to us filtered through patriarchal structures. A
Medieval art sexuality of scholars Medieval art sexuality attempted to read into, through and around the ideological obstacles built into contemporaneous writings by and about medieval women, or into the artistic products that they made or patronized, in order to recover, however imperfectly, female social identities and individual subjectivities.
Historical work that challenges fundamentalist and transhistorical notions about female sexuality is urgently needed in order to counter universalizing presumptions that continue to disempower and harm women.
A fresh look at the Middle Ages discredits assumptions of transhistorical sexualities and
Medieval art sexuality possibilities of alternative sexual or erotic desires, practices, and identities that may help us use what we cannot know about the past to understand better what we do not know about the present.
Recent scholars of medieval sexuality are questioning some of what to many are a priori premises. For example, Karma Lochrie argues that we cannot assume that the Middle Ages were heteronormative. As Thomas Laqueur has pointed out, the pervasiveness of the Aristotelian one-sex model in the Middle Ages calls into question a strict conceptual divide between male and female.
If medieval people were not always bound by rigid concepts of male and female, half
Medieval art sexuality the population was still gendered female in ways that were misogynistic, demeaning and injurious. Mature lady suck
Images represent a potentially rich source for interrogating the issue, especially given that, like sermons, they often operated as a point of contact between the clerical hierarchy and the laity and female religious.
By the later Middle Ages images were increasingly produced by lay artisans for a lay public. Instead, Hamburger writes eloquently of the way the images may have functioned in allowing the nuns to fulfill their hunger for greater access to the "Medieval art sexuality."
This northern region is home...
Hamburger, Nuns as Artists For him, these images only satiate officially sanctioned
Medieval art sexuality. Bynum maintains that sex was not the primary association that medieval people brought to the body, and that they were far more concerned with issues of food, suffering and the promise of resurrection. An exemplary study by Susan L. Smith demonstrates how a group of ivory mirror cases may have functioned for privileged women in negotiating their sexual identities in a patriarchal culture.
One of these is the representation of sexual violence. In her groundbreaking work, Diane Wolfthal shows us that medieval images of rape—from biblical illustration to legal textbooks—reveal medieval attitudes towards sexual violence that were complex and wide-ranging.
This northern region is home...
Images could aestheticize the act to minimize the crime and titillate male viewers; they could convey empathy for the victim or present rape narratives in ways that blame the woman, implicitly or explicitly generalizing about the putative threat of female sexuality. As was the case with the mirror cases, the
Medieval art sexuality images operated in potentially contradictory ways.
They may have encouraged women to suffer passively, like the saints, but they also evoked the familiar end of the story in which the woman triumphs over her torturers and joins the company of saints in heaven. Indeed, the isolated images of the side wound look strikingly vaginal, and may have worked for female viewers in a similar way.
In fact, breasts have proved puzzling for medieval interpreters and their modern counterparts. Carolyn Walker Bynum and Margaret Miles both maintain that in the Middle Ages the breast was primarily a signifier for nourishment, both material and spiritual, and that its sexual connotations are post-medieval. For example, hagiographers retrospectively reassured St.
Medieval art sexuality could underscore or undermine gender categories, shifting as a signifier across chronological and geographical boundaries as it applied to physical or hypothetical states, to a life stage or permanent status, to women and men, to nobles, saints and commoners, to unmarried, married, widowed, clerical or secular persons.
Visualizing Female Sexuality in Medieval...
Mary is not the only iconographic motif that promises insight into medieval virginities. Images of the ancient Jewish heroine Susanna appear to have been enmeshed in negotiating the thorny theological debates about the status of virgins and lay married people in the church—clarifying
Medieval art sexuality about conjugal sex and conceptualizing marital chastity as an alternative, as Katherine Smith has shown.
Wilgefortis, who miraculously grew a beard in order to escape an unwanted husband, demonstrate the ways that virginity could blur the lines between masculine and feminine and confuse sexual expectations.
More and more, scholarship is exposing a diverse, nuanced and confusing picture of the sexual landscape that medieval women inhabited. This emerging portrait belies commonly held generalizations about monolithic nature of misogyny and repression in the Middle
Medieval art sexuality comparable to the diverse, nuanced and confusing sexual panorama in which modern women find themselves.
In and Out of the Marriage Bed: Her treatment of sexuality in reference to spatial contexts—bedrooms, windows, baths, brothels, streets—helps us to see the connections between the literal and social structures of sexuality, between theoretical and material constructions.
We still lack this sort
Medieval art sexuality art historical synthesis for the earlier period, but the increasing number of case studies to which this volume contributes lays the groundwork for similarly ambitious projects. Mati Meyer offers a study that shows how images of nude women defined spaces gendered male, how even the male religious who often are the source of the most conservative and even mysoginist views in the Middle Ages, made room to construe female sexuality in an unexpectedly positive light.
Even more surprising, this was accomplished with reference to exegetical texts that allowed them to attribute positive theological meanings to sensually rendered female nudes. Meyer considers how feminist theories about the gaze can be employed to better understand these maneuvers, which enabled the monks to freely contemplate such representations while congratulating themselves for having the virtue to approach them in what they considered a proper frame of mind.
Marian Bleeke demonstrates that the explicit representations of female genitalia that characterize sheela-na-gigs could also have unexpected connotations in varying viewing contexts. Sheela-na-gigs on secular buildings such as tower-house castles, she argues, must be analyzed apart from the ones located on church architecture. The resulting confusion over what
Medieval art sexuality legitimate marriage created havoc in the realm of title transfer and inheritance rights, which led to the proliferation of defensive keeps, whose fortified gates came to be adorned with sheela-na-gigs.
There, the apotropaic power attributed to these exhibiting figures functioned as a defensive mechanism, even while their gaping genitals
Medieval art sexuality the reproductive power of women, through which inheritances were handed down or lost. Sarit Shalev-Eyni also considers how female sexuality signified on the borders: She examines how images in Hebrew manuscripts convey a heterogeneous but still particularly Jewish perspective on female sexuality.
Though there was some overlap in attitudes between the Jewish and the dominant Christian cultures, the Jewish images illustrate self-conscious attempts to oppose Jewish values about sexuality—especially the elevation of sex in marriage—against Christian values of virginity and celibacy. Shalev-Eyni shows how this ideological stance came to be symbolized in images of the breast, which could stand at once for sensuality in marriage and the sanctioned motherhood that was to result from it.
Breast imagery thus participated in an internal negotiation about the relationship between "Medieval art sexuality" sexuality and Jewish identity; it expressed ideas about community and identity that were inflected by the experience of being a minority living within a dominant Christian culture.
The narrative of the
Medieval art sexuality of St.
Elizabeth of Thuringia illustrated on this altarpiece treats
Medieval art sexuality story in which the saint tends to a leper whom she invited into her marital bed. This was confirmed by the way that her mother-in-law and husband are shown rushing to the scandalous scene. In doing so, she illuminates the tensions between what was perceived as transgressive female desire, and the possible methods and potential rewards of its legitimization. The studies in this volume encourage us to reflect on the issues at stake in investigating female sexuality as it was constructed in both secular and sacred contexts.
They draw attention to the complexities of defining
Medieval art sexuality and envisioning responses across different visual media, across centuries and cultures, and they address the way attitudes towards sexuality inflect and are inflected by intercultural encounters among Latin Christianity, Judaism, and Byzantium.
Rather, it is to acknowledge that the manner and degree to which sexuality is permitted, suppressed, restricted or circumscribed are culturally determined, and to seek greater understanding of this operation by analyzing how female sexuality was expressed and enacted through imagery.
Medieval female sexuality is the...
Because there were human beings in the Middle Ages who were gendered female—who had different legal and social status and were subject to different cultural expectations because they were gendered female—it seems likely that a representation of a walking vulva on a personal badge, for example, had
Medieval art sexuality entirely different charge than a walking penis, and it must have prompted varying responses contingent on the gender of the viewer of the badge e.
Each case study offers diverse opportunities for discerning the implications of such differences. When we study the socially constructed images that addressed female sexuality, we can perceive the all-important lacunae and negative spaces that gave
Medieval art sexuality to them. Sex and obscenity in medieval...
This is not recuperation, but it is recuperative nonetheless. In the papers of this volume, the authors discover how the images of our pre-modern past provided a space in which viewers could negotiate the confusing, discomfiting and
Medieval art sexuality cultural messages that accrued around sexuality in general, and female sexuality in particular.
Lindquist and Mati Meyer. Ashgate, esp. For a recent substantive treatment of the subject with an exhaustive bibliography, see Glenn W. Sodomy in the Age of Peter Damian Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Minnesota Press,xxv. For Farley on these issues, see Just Loveand Lochrie, Heterosyncrasies Doing Unto Others New York: "Medieval art sexuality," Lochrie, Heterosyncrasiesxiv.
Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex: Harvard University Press, University of Chicago Press,xx; see also Among other works, see Jesus as Mother: Columbia University Press, Feminism and the Subversion of Identity10th anniversary ed. Medieval Bodies Then and
Medieval art sexuality Uncovering the Body in Anglo-Saxon Englanded. Jonathan Wilcox and Benjamin Withers Morgantown: Albrecht Classen Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, Carolyn Dinshaw in Getting Medieval: Duke University Press, Stephen Greenblatt and Giles B.
Modern Language Association of America, What was Sexuality in the Middle Ages? Ruth Evans Oxford; New York: Walter de Gruyter,
Medieval art sexuality. Of a number of other significant works dedicated to the subject, it is worth mentioning John W.
Baldwin, The Language of Sex: Five Voices from Northern France around Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ; Vern L. Bullough and James A. See for example, Sander L. Objects and Subjects of Desire New York: Praeger, ; and Ruth Evans, ed. Brendan Cassiday Princeton,
Medieval art sexuality Images: History of Sex: Middle Ages. Codpieces and poulaines are frequently seen in the paintings of the Dutch artist, Pieter Breugel. There. Sex and obscenity in medieval art. Leslie Smith. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care: Vol.
(). Abstract. ((See my discussion of “erotic” imagery in “Meanings of Nudity in Medieval Art: an Introduction,” )) In our own era, the rise of technology-enabled sex (phone.
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