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In this collection of articles, Kari Elisabeth Børresen and Kari Vogt point out the convergence of androcentric gender models in the Christian and Islamic traditions. They provide extensive surveys of recent research in women's studies, with bio-socio-cultural genderedness as their main analytical category. Matristic writers from late Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are analysed in terms of a female God language, reshaping traditional theology. The persisting androcentrism of 20th-century Christianity and Islam, as displayed in institutional documents promoting women's specific functions, is critically exposed. This volume presents a pioneering investigation of correlated Christian and Islamic gender models which has hitherto remained uncompared by women's studies in religion. This work will serve scholars and students in the humanistic disciplines of theology, religious studies, Islamic studies, history of ideas, Medieval philosophy and women's history.
In his Problemata, Aristotle provided medieval thinkers with the occasion to inquire into the natural causes of the sexual desires of men to act upon or be acted upon by other men, thus bringing human sexuality into the purview of natural philosophers, whose aim it was to explain the causes of objects and events in nature. With this philosophical justification, some late medieval intellectuals asked whether such dispositions might arise from anatomy or from the psychological processes of habit formation. As the fourteenth-century philosopher Walter Burley observed, "Nothing natural is shameful." The authors, scribes, and readers willing to "contemplate base things" never argued that they were not vile, but most did share the conviction that they could be explained. From the evidence that has survived in manuscripts of and related to the Problemata, two narratives emerge: a chronicle of the earnest attempts of medieval medical theorists and natural philosophers to understand the cause of homosexual desires and pleasures in terms of natural processes, and an ongoing debate as to whether the sciences were equipped or permitted to deal with such subjects at all. Mining hundreds of texts and deciphering commentaries, indices, abbreviations, and marginalia, Joan Cadden shows how European scholars deployed a standard set of philosophical tools and a variety of rhetorical strategies to produce scientific approaches to sodomy.
In Gendering Disgust in Medieval Religious Polemic, Alexandra Cuffel analyzes medieval Jewish, Christian, and Muslim uses of gendered bodily imagery and metaphors of impurity in their visual and verbal polemic against one another. Drawing from a rich array of sources--including medical texts, bestiaries, Muslim apocalyptic texts, midrash, biblical commentaries, kabbalistic literature, Hebrew liturgical poetry, and theological tracts from late antiquity to the mid-fourteenth century--Cuffel examines attitudes toward the corporeal body and its relationship to divinity. She shows that these religious traditions shared notions of the human body as distasteful, with many believers viewing corporeality and communion with the divine as incompatible. In particular, she explores how authors from each religious tradition targeted the woman's body as antithetical to holiness. Foul smell, bodily fluids and states, and animals were employed by these religious communities as powerful tropes, which they used to mark their religious opponents as sinful, filthy, and unacceptable. By defining and denigrating the religious "other," each group wielded bodily insult as a means of resistance, of inciting violence, and of creating community boundaries. Representations of impurity or filth designed to inspire revulsion served also to reassure audiences of their religious and sometimes physical superiority and to encourage oppressive measures toward the minority. Yet, even in the midst of opposing one another, their very polemic demonstrates that Jews, Christians, and Muslims held basic cultural assumptions and symbols in common while inflecting their meanings differently. "Alexandra Cuffel's bold study interprets the inter-religious polemic of medieval Jews, Christians and Muslims in the context of late-antique disgust for the body, especially the female body, shared by all three traditions. This will be a very influential book for medievalists in many fields." --E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania "With Gendering Disgust in Medieval Religious Polemic, Alexandra Cuffel has produced a remarkably original, ambitious, and important book that sets the agenda for future discussions." --Peter Biller, University of York "'Filth,' 'putrid,' 'excrement,' 'foul,' 'bloody discharge,' 'stench,'--as these and other terms of physical and moral revulsion unfold Gendering Disgust grabs our attention and refuses to let go. Alexandra Cuffel offers her readers a riveting and enlightening comparative socio-religious study of the body's place in religious polemic from late antiquity and the early Middle Ages to the thirteenth century. It is a singularly engaging and disturbing study highlighting the polemical lexicon and registers shared by pagans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims." --Ross Brann, Cornell University
"This is the second in a projected three-volume series which will be the standard for the English-speaking world when completed. This series will constitute a major, comprehensive bibliography of English-language works (over 4,100 will be cited in all) on women in Africa for the period 1976-1985; a follow-up volume (targeted for publication in 1993) will cover the years 1986-1990. . . . In Volumes 2 and 3, arrangement is by subject within both regional and national categories. Items are cross-referenced for maximum coverage. . . . Required for college and university libraries supporting African studies programs." Choice