Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Lady killers: Women, violence, and representation in medieval English literature
by Olson, Katherine Quigg, Ph.D., Columbia University, 2008, 332; 3333477
Abstract (Summary)

The women of medieval English literature kill children, invade kingdoms, torture devils, and murder their enemies. Lady Killers: Women, Violence, and Representation in Medieval Literature engages the representation of such women in a wide variety of hagiography, epic, historiography, religious writing, and secular legenda. The relationship between women and violence often conforms to binary gender: women are passive while men are aggressors. When women are violent, they are often read as mimicking masculinity. The women in Lady Killers often defy such categorization; they exist outside of intelligible systems of representation. Only by moving outside the male/female or masculine/feminine binary, Judith Butler argues in Undoing Gender, can we begin to take on the challenge of such a character. In Lady Killers, I use gender as a category of analysis that disturbs rather than enforces essentializing claims about the relationship between gender and violence. By considering both how violent women are rendered intelligible and how their unintelligibility is represented, I explore the limitations of binary gender and argue that its failure opens up new ways of using gender to represent identity.

Indexing (document details)
School: Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 69/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Medieval literature, British and Irish literature
Keywords: England, Gender, Medieval, Violence, Women characters
Publication Number: 3333477
ISBN: 978-0-549-85599-6
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