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Palgrave Macmillan

Constructing Gender in Medieval Ireland

ISBN 9780230115255
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series The New Middle Ages

Medieval Irish texts reveal distinctive and unexpected constructions of gender. Constructing Gender in Medieval Ireland illuminates these ideas through its fresh and provocative re-readings of a wide range of texts, including saga, romance, legal texts, Fenian narrative, hagiography, and ecclesiastical verse. This ground-breaking collection presents new research by emerging and established scholars, who explore a variety of perspectives on sexual difference in medieval Irish culture. The contributors examine the intersections of gender with narrative, visuality, law, speech acts, transgression, and performance - painting a compelling picture of the many ways in which authors and audiences conceptualized gender in medieval Ireland.

Ann Dooley is Professor Emerita of Celtic Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Playing the Hero: Reading the Irish Saga Táin Bó Cúailnge and, with Harry Roe, Tales of the Elders of Ireland.

Sarah Sheehan is an independent scholar and graduate of the University of Toronto's Centre for Medieval Studies. She is the editor, with Joanne Findon and Westley Follett, of Gablánach in scélaigecht: Celtic Studies in Honour of Ann Dooley.

Introduction: Ann Dooley and Sarah Sheehan
1. Travelers and Settled Folk: Women, Honor, and Shame in Medieval Ireland ; Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha
2. Sex in the civitas: Early Irish Intellectuals and their Vision of Women; Catherine Swift
3. Looking for 'Mr. Right' in Tochmarc Becfhola; Joanne Findon
4. Playing for Power: Macha Mongrúad's Sovereign Performance; Amy C. Mulligan
5. Feasts for the Eyes: Visuality and Desire in the Ulster Cycle; Sarah Sheehan
6. They Kept their Skirts On: Gender-Bending Motifs in Early Irish Hagiography; Judith L. Bishop
7. Human Frontiers in Medieval Irish Religious Literature; Jennifer Karyn Reid
8. Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Late Medieval Irish Rómánsaíochta; Giselle Gos
9. Speaking with Forked Tongues: Gender and Narrative in the Acallam; Ann Dooley

Judith L. Bishop, Mills College, USA
Ann Dooley, University of Toronto, Canada
Joanne Findon, Trent University, Canada
Giselle Gos, Harvard University, USA
Amy C. Mulligan, University of Bergen, Norway
Máirín Ní Dhonnchadha, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
Jennifer Karyn Reid, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sarah Sheehan, Independent Scholar, Toronto
Catherine Swift, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland


"This book is a groundbreaking re-reading of gender construction in Medieval Ireland. Despite Ireland's unique early literature, there has been little produced on this topic, and it is a joy to find contributions from such scholars in one volume. This book will be welcomed for its scope and depth as an invaluable addition to the general medieval field of gender studies, for the amateur and professional scholar alike." - Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, Senior Lecturer, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Ireland
"The unruly sex-gender systems of medieval Irish literature remain nearly as much a scandal to the conservative heteronormativism of modern scholarship in the field as they were to Romanizing churchmen, proto-colonialist Normans, and Elizabethan carpet-baggers. This collection, at long last, clarifies what scholars of medieval gender have to learn from Irish texts, and why it's high time for Celticists, in their turn, to engage more fully the gender-critical insights of the last three decades." - David Townsend, Professor of Medieval Studies and English, University of Toronto, Canada
"[A] genuine conversation about the gendered implications of medieval Irish literature….Until the recent vote on same-sex marriage, the Irish have rarely taken a revolutionary lead in the battle for gender equity. The authors of this volume, led by Mulligan and Dooley, suggest that Irish ambivalence about sexuality and gender boundaries has its origins in the medieval past." - The Medieval Review
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