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Title: Versions of virginity in medieval texts and practices.
Author: Salih, Maha Sarah Abdulelah Lloyd.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis aims to investigate varieties of committed female virginity, beginning with the suggestion that virginity may be a gendered identity distinct from womanhood. It argues that virginity, as a means by which medieval women can access holiness and evade some aspects of their subordination, has often been neglected by critics in favour of forms of gendered piety which exploit the particular qualities of the medieval female body. Both medieval theology and post-modern gender theory support the claim that the virginal body may be produced in the process of performing a virginal identity. The thesis goes on to investigate three distinct techniques for the production of virginity. The legends of virgin martyrs imagine a virginity which is produced in the endurance of public torture; the torture scenes, often read as pornographic, instead highlight the contested status of the virgin body. Virginity is contained and feminised in the lives of nuns, produced communally with reference to such symbolic practices as veiling and enclosure; such production is vulnerable to the imperfect performances of individual nuns, who are thus produced as figures not perfect, but chaotic. Margery Kempe, when read in the context of virginity theory, can claim at least to be like a virgin; ifvirginity is performative, she may indeed be its paradigm. Finally, virginity is the very opposite of stable and natural; it is active, contested, vulnerable but also recoupable.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Imagery Sociology Human services Literature Mass media Performing arts History