Session Title

Toxic Masculinities: Creating, Enforcing, and Distorting Ideas of Manliness in the Middle Ages

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Monsters: The Experimental Association for the Research of Cryptozoology through Scholarly Theory and Practical Application (MEARCSTAPA); Société Rencesvals, American-Canadian Branch

Organizer Name

Ana Grinberg; Asa Simon Mittman

Organizer Affiliation

Auburn Univ.; California State Univ.-Chico

Presider Name

Larissa Tracy

Presider Affiliation

Longwood Univ.

Paper Title 1

Humorous Heroes, Gentle Giants: Pulci's Redefinition of Chivalric Manhood

Presenter 1 Name

Benedetta Campoleoni

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. of Edinburgh

Paper Title 2

Fragmenting the Body and Forming the Man: Identity Constructions and Toxic Masculinities in New York, Morgan MS M.638

Presenter 2 Name

Caitlin DiMartino

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Northwestern Univ.

Paper Title 3

"She nought agroos, ne nothyng smerte": Toxic Masculinity and the Erasure of Female Suffering in Troilus and Criseyde

Presenter 3 Name

Sarah Friedman

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Start Date

12-5-2019 10:30 AM

Session Location

Fetzer 1045

Description

Medieval narratives create norms for “men” and “manly” behavior that often resemble but are not identical to modern ones: masculinity is not a permanent or transhistorical category. Likewise, medieval codes for behavior that often appear to be gendered masculine, such as chivalric ones, may not be as closed as they seem. This panel intends to focus closely on medieval constructions of gender rather than modern or medievalist ones, although the topic is of special urgency as contemporary discourses that reinforce “toxic masculinities” frequently claim the historicity of the gender binary and argue that there are the positive social effects of supposedly “medieval” structures, such as formal courtship, enforced monogamy, and chivalry.

Medieval heroic narratives serve as cultural vessels of destructive male expression. Bisclavret mauls his wife’s face because she leaves him out of reasonable fear. Roland’s pride and his decision not to sound the Oliphant until the last moment only leads to the slaughter of his soldiers. King Arthur seeks to rectify his incestuous mistake via Herod(ian) style massacre. These characters engage in toxic behaviors, responding to social expectations of manliness.

As part of our mission to bring together different fields and methodological approaches, MEARCSTAPA and Société Rencesvals, American-Canadian Branch seek to examine constructions of masculinity in the medieval world that destroys its subject, where it glorifies rape or violence as a means of restoration, or where, in other ways, it proves harmful to those caught in its restrictive ideologies. Ana Grinberg

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May 12th, 10:30 AM

Toxic Masculinities: Creating, Enforcing, and Distorting Ideas of Manliness in the Middle Ages

Fetzer 1045

Medieval narratives create norms for “men” and “manly” behavior that often resemble but are not identical to modern ones: masculinity is not a permanent or transhistorical category. Likewise, medieval codes for behavior that often appear to be gendered masculine, such as chivalric ones, may not be as closed as they seem. This panel intends to focus closely on medieval constructions of gender rather than modern or medievalist ones, although the topic is of special urgency as contemporary discourses that reinforce “toxic masculinities” frequently claim the historicity of the gender binary and argue that there are the positive social effects of supposedly “medieval” structures, such as formal courtship, enforced monogamy, and chivalry.

Medieval heroic narratives serve as cultural vessels of destructive male expression. Bisclavret mauls his wife’s face because she leaves him out of reasonable fear. Roland’s pride and his decision not to sound the Oliphant until the last moment only leads to the slaughter of his soldiers. King Arthur seeks to rectify his incestuous mistake via Herod(ian) style massacre. These characters engage in toxic behaviors, responding to social expectations of manliness.

As part of our mission to bring together different fields and methodological approaches, MEARCSTAPA and Société Rencesvals, American-Canadian Branch seek to examine constructions of masculinity in the medieval world that destroys its subject, where it glorifies rape or violence as a means of restoration, or where, in other ways, it proves harmful to those caught in its restrictive ideologies. Ana Grinberg