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The Rise of Gender in the Twelfth Century

November 7, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Until now, premodern histories of gender, while examining the historical shifts in gender, have nevertheless treated gender itself as a transhistorical concept. This talk proposes instead to study the history of gender as an idea. In order to do so, gender must come back into contact with its lost origin, grammar. Gender began as a metaphor, whereby the grammatical concept of “gender” came to symbolise sexual difference and social roles. Originating in ancient Rome, gender lapsed out of the record in the early Middle Ages. It was not until the twelfth century that gender experienced its first renaissance. A significant increase in the accessibility of Latin grammatical education across western Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries led to an explosion in intellectual and literary interest in Latin grammar as both theory and practice. With this explosion came the rise of gender. This talk traces the reinvention of gender that took place across a wide range of Latin literary texts in the long twelfth century.

This seminar will last approximately 60 minutes including a Q&A, and will begin at 6pm GMT on Monday 7 November 2022. The Zoom link for this session will be emailed to you as part of your confirmation of registration (please check your spam/junk folder for this email if you cannot find it). This seminar is part of the Ideology, Society, and Medieval Religion: Impositions and Negotiations series – for more info, see here or email Tim Wingard (tim.wingard@york.ac.uk) or Emmie Rose Price-Goodfellow (erpg500@york.ac.uk).

Header image: Genius sermonizes and excommunicates sodomites. Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Médecine, Université Montpelier, MS H245, fol.119r.