Session Title

Women at "Pley": Magic, Seduction, and Ingenuity in Medieval English Romance

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Mickey Sweeney

Organizer Affiliation

Dominican Univ.

Presider Name

Kristin Bovaird-Abbo

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Northern Colorado

Paper Title 1

Malory’s Matchmakers: Nynyve, Lyonet, and the Control of Knightly Sexuality in the Morte Darthur

Presenter 1 Name

Matthew D. O'Donnell

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Indiana Univ.-Bloomington

Paper Title 2

Through "a Creuisse of an Olde Cragge": Women, Womb Space, and "Remaking" Knights in Medieval Romance

Presenter 2 Name

Amy Albudri

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Hull

Paper Title 3

Another Aeneas? Typology and Identity in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Presenter 3 Name

Nickolas Haydock

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. de Puerto Rico-Mayagüez

Paper Title 4

Serious Women at "Pley"?

Presenter 4 Name

Mickey Sweeney

Start Date

15-5-2015 10:00 AM

Session Location

Bernhard 159

Description

Medieval Women at ³Play²: Magic, Seduction, and Ingenuity in Romance


This panel proposes to interrogate the alternative forms of agency
medieval women enact as a means of securing their own agency, desire, and
will in the often proclaimed male-dominated space of romance. Unlike
their male counterparts who seek ³worship" largely through dint of
strength in arms, medieval queens and ladies must use magic, seduction,
and ingenuity to outsmart and outmaneuver their political, social and
even sexual rivals. Yet these alternative expressions of agency often
encode darkness, aloofness, and enigmatic morality that complicate these
strong female characters in ways that set them apart from their
relatively straightforward male counterparts. This panel seeks to
reclaim the tricks, ruses, and stratagems that powerful female romance
characters enact as games played on the same chessboard of medieval
romance, from ladies dominating the bedroom through ingenuity and ironic
reversals to powerful queens setting in motion deadly dangerous quests
through political rivalry. Women expressing agency in romance extends
around, behind, and in between the homosocial scenes of masculine prowess
and worship, creating liminal boundaries and supernatural occurrences
that transform straightforward adventures into both deadly serious and
ironically playful expressions of women¹s polysemic agency in a medieval
man¹s world. Delving into these topics will mean exposing some of the
normative judgments surrounding the games powerful women play in romance,
both historically and in our current climate of breaking down taboos
concerning women¹s agency and volition. This panel can open up the
possibilities for an expansive and flexible understanding of women¹s
agency in romance and the different challenges male and female characters
face in achieving their desires in the text. We as modern readers have
the opportunity to open up new lines of inquiry into the motivations of
these characters and the strategies of negotiation that arise in the
texts we study and the cultures which produce these texts, growing and
complicating our understanding of the medieval popular imagination in its
enjoyment of these playful and ingenious narratives.

Mickey M. Sweeney

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May 15th, 10:00 AM

Women at "Pley": Magic, Seduction, and Ingenuity in Medieval English Romance

Bernhard 159

Medieval Women at ³Play²: Magic, Seduction, and Ingenuity in Romance


This panel proposes to interrogate the alternative forms of agency
medieval women enact as a means of securing their own agency, desire, and
will in the often proclaimed male-dominated space of romance. Unlike
their male counterparts who seek ³worship" largely through dint of
strength in arms, medieval queens and ladies must use magic, seduction,
and ingenuity to outsmart and outmaneuver their political, social and
even sexual rivals. Yet these alternative expressions of agency often
encode darkness, aloofness, and enigmatic morality that complicate these
strong female characters in ways that set them apart from their
relatively straightforward male counterparts. This panel seeks to
reclaim the tricks, ruses, and stratagems that powerful female romance
characters enact as games played on the same chessboard of medieval
romance, from ladies dominating the bedroom through ingenuity and ironic
reversals to powerful queens setting in motion deadly dangerous quests
through political rivalry. Women expressing agency in romance extends
around, behind, and in between the homosocial scenes of masculine prowess
and worship, creating liminal boundaries and supernatural occurrences
that transform straightforward adventures into both deadly serious and
ironically playful expressions of women¹s polysemic agency in a medieval
man¹s world. Delving into these topics will mean exposing some of the
normative judgments surrounding the games powerful women play in romance,
both historically and in our current climate of breaking down taboos
concerning women¹s agency and volition. This panel can open up the
possibilities for an expansive and flexible understanding of women¹s
agency in romance and the different challenges male and female characters
face in achieving their desires in the text. We as modern readers have
the opportunity to open up new lines of inquiry into the motivations of
these characters and the strategies of negotiation that arise in the
texts we study and the cultures which produce these texts, growing and
complicating our understanding of the medieval popular imagination in its
enjoyment of these playful and ingenious narratives.

Mickey M. Sweeney