TitleWomen, Nature, and the Environment
Date/TimeThursday 7 July 2022: 14.15-15.45
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairKortney Stern, Department of English, Indiana University, Bloomington
Paper 1738-a Transcending Bodily Borders: Hildegard of Bingen's Understanding of Women and the Womb
(Language: English)
Minji Lee, Department of Religion / Medical Humanities Program, Montclair State University, New Jersey
Index Terms: Gender Studies; Medicine; Science; Sexuality
Paper 1738-b Riddling Earth-Halls: Examining the Interplay of Environmental and Rhetorical Borders in 'The Wife's Lament' and 'Wulf and Eadwacer'
(Language: English)
Gavin Foster, Department of English, Dalhousie University
Index Terms: Language and Literature - Old English; Rhetoric; Women's Studies
Paper 1738-c Disrupting Boundaries in the Vitae of Brigit of Kildare
(Language: English)
Christina M. Heckman, Department of English & World Languages, Augusta University, Georgia
Index Terms: Hagiography; Language and Literature - Celtic; Religious Life
AbstractPaper -a:
In this presentation, I argue that Hildegard of Bingen sees the woman's nature as more adaptable to the changes, such as the postlapsarian degeneration, seasonal changes, and the moon's changes. For Hildegard, this female adaptability suggests that women have a softer body; therefore, more porous nature, enabling them to communicate physically with men, physiologically with nature, and spiritually with God with their more open body. The shape of the womb and the creation story of Eve were used to support how the woman's body and mind overcome the boundaries and interact with God and God's creations.

Paper -b:
As the Old English elegies, 'The Wife's Lament' and 'Wulf and Eadwacer' border the first group of Riddles in the Exeter Book manuscript, scholarly discourse has often brought the riddling elements of both elegies to the forefront of their narratives. This paper builds on discussion of the poems' riddling qualities, arguing that the struggles created by environmental/physical borders presented in the poems - read through an eco-critical lens, with focus on eco-feminism and the intersections of women and nature - mirror the struggles for recognition that emerge from the riddling quality of the two texts.

Paper -c:
Brigit of Kildare continually disrupted borders, complicating binary distinctions between slave and free, domestic and wild, plenty and dearth. Many human laws, including those pertaining to property and slavery, have no hold upon Brigit, who continually challenges their limits. Even more profoundly, Brigit's vitae disrupt assumptions regarding the boundaries between natural and supernatural, the miraculous and the everyday. Rather than transcending natura, the power that generates life, Brigit's deeds align perfectly with nature, drawing out its endless potentialities, usually through homely tasks. Brigit's powerful connection with other creatures, particularly domesticated animals, demonstrates the need to rethink domestication as a domain of mutual being and benefit rather than human domination.