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Anglo-Saxon Maternal Bodies
November 14, 2016 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
What can we know about women’s bodies when the only people writing about them were men, and those men were generally monks? In a culture that is largely silent about the lives and bodies of women, how can we understand their embodied experiences of the world? By looking at Anglo-Saxon medical texts that features remedies, charms, and diagnostics, some of which are superstitious, some learned, and some frighteningly ignorant regarding basic physiology, we can begin to understand how the real bodies of Anglo-Saxon women functioned in a world that often left them out of the literary record.
Dana Oswald is author of the book Monsters, Gender, and Sexuality in Medieval English Literature, as well as articles on Old and Middle English literature and translation, and gender and sexuality studies. Her focus on the embodied experience of life in medieval England is a means by which contemporary readers can connect to people, characters, and problems existing in an age that can seem very foreign.