Download Class and Gender in Early English Literature: Intersections by Britton J. Harwood, Gillian R. Overing PDF

By Britton J. Harwood, Gillian R. Overing

"[The essays] specialise in classification and gender not just sheds new mild on outdated texts but additionally stretches the bounds of the severe modus operandi that's frequently utilized to such literature." -- Women's reports community (UK) organization NewsletterThese dramatic new readings of previous and center English texts discover the wealthy theoretical territory on the intersection of sophistication and gender, and spotlight the interaction of the critic, technique, and the medieval textual content.

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Extra resources for Class and Gender in Early English Literature: Intersections

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The effect of its rhetorical hypertrophy is to underscore the dangers of these masculine rituals, in particular, the threats of violence and the breakdown of language. The depiction of Holofernes's feast is thus haunted by the more temperate and orderly feasts of Anglo-Saxon literature and culture, pointing to the more disturbing aspects of this masculine ritual which will culminate in Holofernes's plan to rape Judith. A crisis is precipitated by the excess of the feast, even though this excess is endemic to the feast and the social system it celebrates.

The reversed sexual violence underlying her decapitation of Holofernes thus becomes inscribed in her speech and the subsequent victory of the Bethulians. Instead of a routing of the masculine economy exploited by Holofernes in Judith's victory, there is merely an inversion of its customary power relationships. The glory of the Bethulians is possible through Judith's appropriation of the violence of the gaze and inscription, the two principles of violence in Holofernes's masculine culture. While it is certainly significant that Judith is the agent of this appropriation, it is equally important that we notice how the same politics of war based on sexual violence is operative in her appropriation.

Holofernes's excess threatens his own power, role as leader, and his masculinity as well as the patriotism and loyalty identified with it. Suddenly, the ex- Page 12 cessthe armlets and rings (beagum gehlste, / hringum gerodene, 36b37a)with which Judith has adorned herself to seduce Holofernes becomes transferred to Holofernes's body, and renders illegible the codes of power he has been so careful to establish. The sexual violence of Judith's beheading takes the form of Holofernes's bodily inscription, which the text then proceeds to read.

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