Session Title

More Fuss about the Body: New Medievalists' Perspectives

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Special Session

Organizer Name

Stephanie Grace-Petinos; Leah Pope Parker

Organizer Affiliation

Western Carolina Univ.; Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Presider Name

Stephanie Grace-Petinos; Leah Pope Parker

Paper Title 1

Hermaphrodites and the Boundaries of Sex in the High Middle Ages

Presenter 1 Name

Leah DeVun

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Paper Title 2

The Body in the Tusk: An Ecocritical Study

Presenter 2 Name

Emma Le Pouésard

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Columbia Univ.

Paper Title 3

Perception and Bodily Identity in the Twelfth-Century Werewolf Renaissance

Presenter 3 Name

Andrea Whitacre

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Indiana Univ.-Bloomington

Start Date

11-5-2019 1:30 PM

Session Location

Bernhard 209

Description

In her 1995 essay “Why All the Fuss about the Body?: A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Caroline Walker Bynum presented a nuanced picture of embodiment in the past in order “to suggest that we in the present would do well to focus on a wider range of topics in our study of body or bodies.”[1] The same year saw the release of Bynum’s magisterial exploration of the body, identity, and medieval Christian eschatology in The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200–1336. Almost 25 years later, Bynum’s call for diversity with respect to histories of the body still invites increasingly nuanced approaches to medieval embodiment, both medieval and modern.

This panel honors Bynum’s seminal essay, while using it as a springboard for new investigations concerning the body. The first paper; "Hermaphrodites and the Boundaries of Sex in the High Middle Ages," re-examines images of hermaphrodites, taken from ancient tales of the "monstrous races," through the lens of trans studies. The second paper, "The Body in the Tusk: An Ecocritical Study," reintroduces the body of the elephant, often neglected in materialist studies of ivory, employing an ecocritical approach to connect the elephant to both animal rights and feminist issues. The third and final paper, "Perception and Bodily Identity in the Twelfth-Century Werewolf Renaissance," challenges the notion that while the outer forms of the central characters in Guillaume de Palerne are temporarily altered, the real body and identity underneath remains unchanged, arguing instead that both the perception of others and the blurred border between animal and human skin/body play integral roles in shaping the "true" hidden self.

[1] Caroline Walker Bynum, “Why All the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Critical Inquiry 22 (1995): 1–33, p. 8.

Stephanie Grace-Petinos

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May 11th, 1:30 PM

More Fuss about the Body: New Medievalists' Perspectives

Bernhard 209

In her 1995 essay “Why All the Fuss about the Body?: A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Caroline Walker Bynum presented a nuanced picture of embodiment in the past in order “to suggest that we in the present would do well to focus on a wider range of topics in our study of body or bodies.”[1] The same year saw the release of Bynum’s magisterial exploration of the body, identity, and medieval Christian eschatology in The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity, 200–1336. Almost 25 years later, Bynum’s call for diversity with respect to histories of the body still invites increasingly nuanced approaches to medieval embodiment, both medieval and modern.

This panel honors Bynum’s seminal essay, while using it as a springboard for new investigations concerning the body. The first paper; "Hermaphrodites and the Boundaries of Sex in the High Middle Ages," re-examines images of hermaphrodites, taken from ancient tales of the "monstrous races," through the lens of trans studies. The second paper, "The Body in the Tusk: An Ecocritical Study," reintroduces the body of the elephant, often neglected in materialist studies of ivory, employing an ecocritical approach to connect the elephant to both animal rights and feminist issues. The third and final paper, "Perception and Bodily Identity in the Twelfth-Century Werewolf Renaissance," challenges the notion that while the outer forms of the central characters in Guillaume de Palerne are temporarily altered, the real body and identity underneath remains unchanged, arguing instead that both the perception of others and the blurred border between animal and human skin/body play integral roles in shaping the "true" hidden self.

[1] Caroline Walker Bynum, “Why All the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective,” Critical Inquiry 22 (1995): 1–33, p. 8.

Stephanie Grace-Petinos