Gender and Medieval Studies Conference 2015
Gender, Dirt and Taboo
7-9 January, 2015
'To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure'
Odo of Cluny
The Middle Ages are synonymous with dirt - bodily, spiritual, linguistic and literary. People lived in closer proximity to the material reality of filth: privies, animal waste, the midden, and while walking city streets. Keeping one's body and clothes uncontaminated by filth would have represented a challenge. The Church took great pains to warn about the polluting effect of sin, and the literal and metaphorical stains that it could leave upon body and soul. The Middle Ages remains (in)famous, to some, due to the perception that its comedy is simply 'latrine humour'. Women, with their leaky and pollutant bodies, lie at the heart of the medieval materiality of filth. Throughout her life course, a woman engaged with dirt; in bearing children, caring for the sick, working within the household and outside of the home, listening to sermons in church and to literature in a variety of contexts. In the misogynist discourse of Churchmen such as Odo of Cluny, woman was little more than dirt herself. Odo of Cluny did not acknowledge that manure is, of course, essential to healthy new growth.
We welcome abstracts from postgraduates and colleagues on all aspects of gender, dirt and taboo and from a broad range of disciplines, including history, archaeology, book history, literature, art history, music , theology and medicine.
Papers are particularly welcome on, but are not limited to:
The language of dirt
Dirt in texts/ 'dirty' texts
Landscapes of dirt
Dirt and spirituality
Dirt and sexuality
The comedy of dirt
The science of dirt