Gender and Enclosure in The Wife’s Lament and the Middle Irish Longes Mac nUislenn
Presenter: Margorie Housley
PHD English and Gender Studies Graduate Minor
November 13, 2015
Noon – 339 O’Shaughnessy
Medieval religious texts such as Ancrene Wisse and the various Lives of desert fathers often represent enclosure as a positive and purifying experience, a hermetic ideal for anyone who might be able to manage it. However, early medieval secular—to the extent that anything written down in a monastic setting can be secular—and vernacular texts make clear that enclosure, particularly against one’s will, is often neither positive nor beneficial. In early medieval narratives, women may be enclosed by the will of and for the use of men, leaving them with limited resources to escape their circumstances, physically or psychologically. In this paper, I will limit my focus to early Irish and Old English vernacular traditions, focusing on two primary texts: the Middle Irish Longes Mac nUislenn (The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu—a story that establishes certain aspects of the plot of the Old Irish saga Táin Bó Cúailnge) and the Old English elegiac poem The Wife’s Lament.
Marjorie Housley is a PhD student in the Department of English, completing graduate minors in Irish Studies and Gender Studies. Her main area of interest is early medieval vernacular literature of the North Seas region—primary Old English, Old Irish, and Old Norse literatures. Her scholarship focuses on gender, queer theory, affect theory, and history of the emotions, and her planned dissertation project examines the ways constructions of emotion and gender interact in early medieval vernaculars.
In order to advance the program’s commitment to inter-disciplinary research and inquiry into the subject of gender, the Gender Studies Program is pleased to announce an upcoming series of research workshops. The events will include presentations by advanced undergraduates majoring in Gender Studies as well as graduate students and faculty members from a variety of departments who work in the area of gender and sexuality. The workshop will begin with the week’s presenter giving a brief lecture on his or her current research in the field, followed by a seminar-style discussion.
Workshops are held on Fridays from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in 339 O’Shaughnessy.