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Medieval art sexuality

opinion

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.

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