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Used when discussions cover a number of European topics, or discuss Europe in general. See also specific countries/regions.

LHMP entry

This chapter looks at academic questions regarding the nature of male and female. With no agreed-on set of source texts or fixed principles of interpretation, the diversity and imaginativeness of late medieval interpretations was a natural consequence. But the contributions of Greek and Arabic writers and the development of structures for argumentation and presentation also affected the resulting conclusions. The formality of the field and its presentation can make it difficult to separate intellectualizing versus popular understanding.

The rise of universities, growing importance of towns, and shifts in the focus of ecclesiastical and secular courts created a new context for discussing sex differences. The rise of universities also inspired translation of vast quantities of Greek and Arabic material on natural philosophy and mediecine, providing access to classical sources that had been altered in the course of Latin transmission. This wealth of detail highlighted problems with the consistency and structure of the body of knowledge. This chapter highlights several texts grappling with this diversity.

Part I

Medieval philosophy rested on classical and theological traditions, but these traditions could be contradictory and their contents were sometimes adapted to new uses and beliefs.

Chapter 1: Prelude to medieval theories and debates

This chapter covers Greek and Latin source materials that would form part of the basis of medieval understanding of sex differences. These philosophers presented both “scientific” and metaphorical explanations for sex difference. Different writers presented different concepts that overlapped and contradicted each other.

While covering much of the same timeframe, Cadden takes a broader and more diverse view than Laqueur, while acknowledging the reality of his two models (the one-sex and two-sex models). In all eras, the “facts” about sex and sexuality are filtered through cultural prejudices. Medieval ideas about sex difference were part of the culture’s assumptions about gender. Medieval society was not a single culture, and the era covered several overall shifts in thinking, so there isn’t a single unified “medieval idea” of sex difference that can be pointed to.

This book looked interesting at a quick glance, and was reasonably priced. I picked it up for the chapter entitled "Textile Concerns: Holy Transvestites and the Dangers of Cross-Dressing." The substance is a lot less useful for my purposes, though not necessarily as an absolute judgment. It appears to be intended as a textbook for "general survey" type history courses. The sort taken by people who aren't history majors, but are taking it as an elective.

This, and next week’s article, appear to come out of a conference session inspired by Dinshaw’s book Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern. Which I have not yet covered. In general, this article is meta-commentary on the topics of the book, rather than discussing new data or interpretations.

[This is from the same group of papers commenting on Dinshaw's Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern as entry #242 by Dinshaw herself.]

Hollywood expresses an appreciation for how Dinshaw articulates a queer desire “for partial, affective connection, for community, for even a touch across time” and how that shapes how queer historians approach their topic. [This is a theme that is certainly aligned with the purpose of the Project.]

[Content note: This article deals with overlapping uses of the word “hermaphrodite” in medieval contexts. In some cases, it indicates a person of ambiguous genitalia, that is, an intersex person. In other cases, it indicates a person who combines aspects of performative gender assigned to men and women or who performs aspects of a gender not matching the one assigned to their physiology. Medieval theory did not clearly distinguish these concepts.

This is an overview of treatments of human sexuality as indicated in the title. Only a very small amount of material pertains to same-sex sexuality, so this summary will be brief. The subject matter is medical, astrological, and philosophical treatises of the 12-15th centuries, either written in or translated into Latin.

Pages

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