Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Jana K. Schulman

Second Advisor

Dr. Eve Salisbury

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert F. Berkhofer III

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until

12-15-2022

Abstract

Old English poetry features several female characters who challenge androcentric authority by violently killing men. I argue in this thesis that three of these women—Modthryth, Grendel’s mother, and Judith—are linked together by their rejection or reversal of the male gaze. In their forceful refusal to be visually objectified, each character is portrayed as abject—outside of normal and outcast from community. They cause disorder, illustrate the fragility of androcentric control, and force a confrontation with death. In so doing, they create ambiguity and, at times, reverse the subject/object and masculine/feminine gender binaries.

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