2018 UMass/Five College Program in History Distinguished Annual Lecture by Anna Taylor

 

Article Annual Lecture

On October 11, we were delighted to welcome Martha G. Newman of the University of Texas at Austin for the 2018 UMass/Five College Program in History Distinguished Annual Lecture. Newman presented a lecture titled, “Assigned Female at Death: Joseph of Schönau’s Disruption of Medieval Gender Binaries,” in which she discussed a late twelfth-century account of a transgender monk. Joseph’’s brother monks read him as male during his lifetime, but assigned him female after his death. Discussing her groundbreaking article, published in Speculum in 2003, Newman discussed how the rapidly transforming field of transgender studies has shaped her understanding of Joseph’s narrative since then. The Cistercian monk Engelhard of Langheim, who included the account of Joseph among the collection of stories he sent to nuns, attempted to control the story’s gender fluidity, but was unable to do so. “Despite the author’s efforts to assert normative categories of gender, his story unsettled conventional binaries,” Newman explains. Newman’s work on Joseph recovers important transgender history and, as she says, “illuminates the possibility of non-binary genders within medieval monastic culture.”

To read more about the 2018 Annual Lecture, click here

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