Female Sexuality and Forms of Knowledge in the OE

title: Female Sexuality and Forms of Knowledge in the OE at Kalamazoo’s 48th Medieval Congress
original title: Gender, Anonymity, and Hagiography
Stacy Klein, Rutgers

“I pray to God …” that only exact copying of Aelfric’s work…
one of the non-Aelfrician works added is Life of Saint Mary of Egypt

do the anonymous hagiographies offer us an alternative tradition? A break from old ideas of past? away from Benedictine forms? different understandings of spirituality?

Magennis notes that Anonymous Life offers Anglian (not West Saxon) product, “radical tradition” of alternative…
He talks about vocabulary.
I want to talk about two other points in the alternative spirituality of The Life
life representation of female sexuality and sanctity
conceptual model to acquire or increase spiritual knowledge

Who can tell me something else? (lines 62-64)

polite questions about who can help pursue wisdom
different model
OE Life rejects idea of stark contrast between old and new, instead shows continuity between old life (of prostitution) and new (as saint)
differs from 10th century, esp Aelfric’s, hagiographies

all critics who write about life write about contrasts/opposites (binaries)
everything is contrastive
Shrine/Shine/Shein?, Annie Orchard, and Magennis “old life of sin and new life of sanctity”
ostensibly in and through these contrasts that they argue that knowledge is acquired through contrast and understanding difference
contrasts is common of OT writing and Aelfric’s typical reduction of number of characters to clarify contrasting

not the main strategy of text here
new saint not so different from prostitution-sinner
does not abandon her seduction, but applies it to spiritual experience
almost all interaction are erotic and sexually charged

transfers desire to new and different … potentially productive forces for women and men
Mary employs tools of former trade to the great benefit of the monastery
early part shows her gathering men together with her rhetorical skills and power of persuasion
later part shows her teaching Zosimus and the monastery

continuity rather than contrast

relationship between female and male positive
contact between men and women as potentially positive components

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