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Crises in the Pronoun Paradigm and the Transgendered Body: Crossdressing in the Old English Saints’ Lives of Euphrosyne and Eugenia

Crises in the Pronoun Paradigm and the Transgendered Body: Crossdressing in the Old English Saints’ Lives of Euphrosyne and Eugenia

By Grant Leyton Simpson

Paper given at the  Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium – Seventh Annual ASSC Graduate Student Conference

Held at the University of Toronto, February 12, 2011

The author examines two hagiographic works – the lives St. Eugenia and St. Euphrosyne, in which both women entered and lived in male monasteries. Early Christianity had many examples of cross-dressing women – who usually donned men’s clothes so to protect their virginity or chastity.

Simpson’s interest in these two works is to see how the author made use of masculine and feminine grammar when referring to these two women, and noted that their were differences between these two texts – St. Eugenia is often referred to in the feminine, and is mostly called maiden. She is sometimes written about in masculine nouns, such as abbot. Meanwhile, St. Euphrosyne gets referred to by her male pseudonym just as often as here female name, and the word maiden is not used to describe ger very often.

Simpson plans to continue his research into this topic and better understand why one hagiographic writer was more comfortable using both masculine and feminine words to describe his female subject, while the other was consistently feminine in his approach.

Click here to see more papers from the Anglo-Saxon Studies Colloquium

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