Liminal Ladies: Porous Women's Bodies in Medieval Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Oregon Medieval English Literature Society
contact email: 
snelson2@uoregon.edu

A common medieval trope in stories of women’s misdeeds seems to be their mouths getting them into trouble. In her book "Bodytalk: When Women Speak in Old French Literature," E. Jane Burns cites the vagina as the site of a second producing 'mouth' in fabliaux. Taking this doubling under consideration, the kind of trouble women find themselves in almost invariably involves either speech, consumption of food or drink, or sexual appetite. Regardless of which mouth is opened, the production or reception of materials into or out of their mouths involves crossing bodily boundaries: letting outside matter in, or expelling or revealing inside matter to the outside world. Papers in this panel will focus on examinations of women’s bodies as porous, marginal spaces, allowing matter to pass freely into and out of their varying orifices, and the consequences, positive or negative, of this movement across bodily borders. These papers should not only provide illuminating perspectives of women’s bodies as liminal areas within literature, but seek to consider how these texts informed their contemporary audiences, and how an understanding of women’s bodies as crossable boundaries between interiors and exteriors can go beyond stereotypical misogynistic understandings of women, and provide new ideas of literary representations of medieval women to a modern audience. Papers on English and Continental literature are welcome.

Please provide an abstract of at least 200 words and include your full name and contact information; send abstracts to Sharity Nelson, email: snelson2@uoregon.edu. Deadline for abstracts is August 1, 2009.

cfp categories: 
medieval