Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lucy Allen: On Medieval Women

Dr Lucy Allen, Lecturer at Kings College Cambridge, gives a talk on BBC Radio 4 on transgressing in the senior common room in the college after dinner into a conversation about whether violence against women in the series "Game of Thrones" is in fact realistic since, the argument goes, it reflects violence against medieval women in the 15th C Wars of the Roses. Yes, there is profound violence, she argues, but people then are "hugely concerned" about it. Medieval society seems both conflicted and concerned. In the medieval copied text, illustrations made by Jeanne de Monbaston for Roman de la Rose, show an image of a nun next to the text picking fruit aka penises from a penis tree. In this image, women seem to be having a joke at the expense of misogynists.

The Alliterative Mord d'Arthure, a middle English literary poem of 1400, describes the hero meeting a woman sitting beside a newly made grave: the text shows, and even breaks off her broken account indicating she can hardly describe that her foster daughter has been raped and murdered: the broken text reflects the aftermath of trauma. In this narrative, violence against women is shown as a trauma. Thus, women are finding spaces to oppose misogynist culture in the margins and the narrative of texts.


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