Start Date

1-5-2019 12:30 PM

End Date

1-5-2019 1:45 PM

Disciplines

Medieval History | Women's History

Subjects

Lesbians -- History, Monasticism and religious orders for women -- History -- Middle Ages (600-1500), Sex -- Religious aspects

Abstract

From an era characterized by piety and a fierce hostility towards sexuality, the field of medieval lesbianism asserts that evidence of medieval 'lesbians' exist within women’s music, art, texts, and literature despite the phallocentric and theological refutations of medieval theologians and historians. Yet, even within the highly controversial and complex field, clerical lesbianism is "twice marginalized" and egregiously simplified. Where does evidence of medieval women-identified relationships within religious orders exist, what constitutes this religious lesbianism, and how should scholarship discuss medieval lesbianism? This paper answers these questions first analyzing the anonymous, 12th century love-letters G. unice sue rose and C. super mel et favum dulciori to find undeniable proof of medieval lesbianism and "lesbianistic intimacy" – the sexual and nonsexual intimacy historically characteristic of lesbianism – within antisexual religious orders of the middle ages. Second, the methodology, framework, analysis, conclusions, and terminology of medievalists are dissected and critiqued, resulting in the rejection of Adrienne Rich’s "lesbian continuum" and Judith Bennett’s “lesbian-like” as essentialist, too inclusive, and contingent upon lifestyle rather than women-identified intimacy and the proposal of "lesbianistic intimacy." Through the work of this paper, a dichotomy is uncovered regarding the European Middle Ages: the simultaneous existence of the antisexual and fiercely heteronormative image theological literature presents, and decidedly not heteronormative and ecclesiastical lesbianistic intimacy. This dichotomy, arising from the acknowledgement and validation of homoaffection and homosexuality between medieval women – clerical and laic – requires medievalists to reevaluate the validity and our knowledge of the medieval society and history.

Notes

2nd place winner of the Karen E. Hoppes Young Historians Award for Outstanding Research and Writing.

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© Copyright the author(s)

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Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/29461

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May 1st, 12:30 PM May 1st, 1:45 PM

Searching for Medieval Lesbianism and "Lesbianistic Intimacy" Within Asexual Christian Religious Orders of the Middle Ages: G. unice sue rose and C. super mel et favum dulciori

From an era characterized by piety and a fierce hostility towards sexuality, the field of medieval lesbianism asserts that evidence of medieval 'lesbians' exist within women’s music, art, texts, and literature despite the phallocentric and theological refutations of medieval theologians and historians. Yet, even within the highly controversial and complex field, clerical lesbianism is "twice marginalized" and egregiously simplified. Where does evidence of medieval women-identified relationships within religious orders exist, what constitutes this religious lesbianism, and how should scholarship discuss medieval lesbianism? This paper answers these questions first analyzing the anonymous, 12th century love-letters G. unice sue rose and C. super mel et favum dulciori to find undeniable proof of medieval lesbianism and "lesbianistic intimacy" – the sexual and nonsexual intimacy historically characteristic of lesbianism – within antisexual religious orders of the middle ages. Second, the methodology, framework, analysis, conclusions, and terminology of medievalists are dissected and critiqued, resulting in the rejection of Adrienne Rich’s "lesbian continuum" and Judith Bennett’s “lesbian-like” as essentialist, too inclusive, and contingent upon lifestyle rather than women-identified intimacy and the proposal of "lesbianistic intimacy." Through the work of this paper, a dichotomy is uncovered regarding the European Middle Ages: the simultaneous existence of the antisexual and fiercely heteronormative image theological literature presents, and decidedly not heteronormative and ecclesiastical lesbianistic intimacy. This dichotomy, arising from the acknowledgement and validation of homoaffection and homosexuality between medieval women – clerical and laic – requires medievalists to reevaluate the validity and our knowledge of the medieval society and history.