Session Title

Que(e)rying Aelred: Desire, Affect, Gender, and Normative Monastic Discourse

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Society for the Study of Homosexuality in the Middle Ages (SSHMA)

Organizer Name

Graham N. Drake

Organizer Affiliation

SUNY-Geneseo

Presider Name

David Townsend

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Paper Title 1

"A monk in the king, a cloister in the court”: Examining Aelred of Rievaulx’s Notions of Affect in His Work on the Lives of Kings

Presenter 1 Name

Peter Johnsson

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Paper Title 2

Hit Me, Baby, One More Time: Aelred's Queer Desire for Past Flesh

Presenter 2 Name

Sarah Star

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Paper Title 3

Interruptum est opus: Queering Loss in Aelred's Speculum caritatis

Presenter 3 Name

Amanda Wetmore

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Toronto

Paper Title 4

Respondent

Presenter 4 Name

Albrecht Diem

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Syracuse Univ.

Start Date

8-5-2014 3:30 PM

Session Location

Valley II LeFevre Lounge

Description

This session seeks to unpack the problematics of gender, desire, and the relation of flesh to spirit in the spiritual writings of Aelred of Rievaulx, especially De institutione inclusarum, Speculum caritatis, and De spiritali amicitia. Aelred is often gestured to, more or less reflexively, as an apogee of positive valuations of same-sex affectivity in medieval monastic culture, but the reality of his richly varied, conceptually flexible taxonymy of affect and desire offer a far more complex set of problems as to how it might (and might not) be possible to claim that Aelred queers normative discourses of monastic formation. The purpose of this session is to reassess earlier appropriations of Aelred for queer history that were sometimes grounded less in the careful analysis of such issues and more preoccupied by questions of sexual identity.

Abstracts may offer considerations of such topics as Aelred's entertainment of the queer time of mourning and of affective piety, of which he was a principal pioneer; the issue of the "closet" that has been constructed around Aelred beginning with his own works, and the way that the performance of that "closet" recapitulates itself in modern scholarship, and to what ends; the rhythms of dispassionate statements of monastic formation in alternation with dramatically affective "outbursts" in Aelred's work; the convolutions by which pleasure and fulfillment come to reside in the self-denial of pleasure and fulfillment; and the triangulation of desire for Christ with desire for the lost (male) beloved.

Graham N. Drake

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May 8th, 3:30 PM

Que(e)rying Aelred: Desire, Affect, Gender, and Normative Monastic Discourse

Valley II LeFevre Lounge

This session seeks to unpack the problematics of gender, desire, and the relation of flesh to spirit in the spiritual writings of Aelred of Rievaulx, especially De institutione inclusarum, Speculum caritatis, and De spiritali amicitia. Aelred is often gestured to, more or less reflexively, as an apogee of positive valuations of same-sex affectivity in medieval monastic culture, but the reality of his richly varied, conceptually flexible taxonymy of affect and desire offer a far more complex set of problems as to how it might (and might not) be possible to claim that Aelred queers normative discourses of monastic formation. The purpose of this session is to reassess earlier appropriations of Aelred for queer history that were sometimes grounded less in the careful analysis of such issues and more preoccupied by questions of sexual identity.

Abstracts may offer considerations of such topics as Aelred's entertainment of the queer time of mourning and of affective piety, of which he was a principal pioneer; the issue of the "closet" that has been constructed around Aelred beginning with his own works, and the way that the performance of that "closet" recapitulates itself in modern scholarship, and to what ends; the rhythms of dispassionate statements of monastic formation in alternation with dramatically affective "outbursts" in Aelred's work; the convolutions by which pleasure and fulfillment come to reside in the self-denial of pleasure and fulfillment; and the triangulation of desire for Christ with desire for the lost (male) beloved.

Graham N. Drake