Session1401
TitleNew Voices Lecture: Towards a Theory of Feminist Medievalisms (Language: English)
Date/TimeWednesday 6 July 2022: 19.00-20.00
 
SpeakerUsha Vishnuvajjala, School of English, Communication & Philosophy, Cardiff University
 
IntroductionAnke Bernau, School of Arts, Languages & Cultures, University of Manchester
 
AbstractSpeaker: Usha Vishnuvajjala, School of English, Communication & Philosophy, Cardiff University
Introduction: Anke Bernau, School of Arts, Languages & Cultures, University of Manchester

In recent years, medievalism studies has tended to focus on nationalist, misogynist, or racist representations of medieval culture. Very recent and forthcoming work considers anti-racist and anti-elitist medievalisms, as well as representations of women, but many studies of medievalism that focus on women still consider powerful women, or women enacting power. My lecture will ask what it might look like to focus on women embracing vulnerability through encounters with medieval or medievalist people, objects, narratives, or places. Such a practice, I will argue, need not be enacted by women to be considered feminist, but draws on medieval women's practices of affective identification and can serve to combat misogyny as well as racism and classism.

In contrast to prevailing theories of embodied, experiential, or participatory medievalisms, which focus on deliberate role playing or other experiences that depend on a feeling of safety and are often rooted in nostalgia, I argue that a qualitatively different practice of medievalism has long existed but been rendered largely illegible by gendered understandings of medievalism and periodization. Through a series of brief case studies, including medievalism in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and the music video for Madonna's 1989 song 'Like a Prayer', I will demonstrate that a focus on embodied vulnerability reveals a different type of medievalism, one that we can call feminist regardless of who is practising it.

Please note that admission to this event will be on a first-come, first-served basis as there will be no tickets. Please ensure that you arrive as early as possible to avoid disappointment.