In the Late Anglo-Saxon illustrated manuscripts of Prudentius's Psychomachia, vice and virtue are often shown ambiguously and the audience is encouraged to question what is male and what is female, and whether such categories are appropriate in understanding these illustrations. This paper utilises transgender theory to demonstrate how gender could be deployed in Late Anglo-Saxon manuscripts to question the roles of men and women with the ultimate aim of stressing the importance of righteous behaviours.
My deepest thanks to the following for their feedback and advice: Dr Heather Pulliam, Professor Catherine Karkov, the attendees at the 2018 Gender and Medieval Society Conference held at Corpus Christi College Oxford, and Dr Dorothy Kim. Thanks also to my reviewers for their insightful comments and encouragement.
Anglo-Saxon, Psychomachia, Manuscripts
Copyright © 2019 the author(s). Images © British Library Board (Approval has been granted for publication.)
McGucken, Stephenie "Vice & Virtue As Woman?: The Iconography of Gender Identity in the Late Anglo-Saxon Psychomachia Illustrations." Medieval Feminist Forum: A Journal of Gender and Sexuality 55, No. 1 (2019) : 42-63.
Figure 1. Virtues Rejoice. Psychomachia, © British Library Board, Cleopatra C. viii, fol. 30v.
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Figure 2. Virtues Return to Camp. Psychomachia, © British Library Board, Cotton Cleopatra C. viii, fol. 31r.
fig. 3 5v.tif (22804 kB)
Figure 3. Libido Attacks Pudicitia. Psychomachia, © British Library Board, Additional MS 24199, fol. 5v.
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Figure 4. Pudicitia Strikes Libido. Psychomachia, © British Library Board, Additional MS 24199, fol. 6r.
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Figure 5. Pudicitia Stabs Libido. Psychomachia, © British Library Board Additional MS 24199, fol. 6r.
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Figure 6. Pudicitia Rebukes (Deceased) Libido. Psychomachia, © British Library Board, Additional MS 24199, fol. 6v.
fig 7 23r.tif (17588 kB)
Figure 7. Avaritia Suckles Offspring. Psychomachia, © British Library Board, Additional MS 24199, fol. 23r.