Gender, Corporeality and Christianity in the Old English Judith, Juliana and Elene
Chenard , Marianne Alicia Malo (University of Alberta)
M.A Thesis (English), University of Alberta (1998)
Gender in tenth-century Old Engiish religious poetry is intimately linked to representations of the body, as well as to medieval exegesis concerning the relationship between the spirit and the flesh. The anonyrnous poem Judith and Cynewulf’s Juliana and Elene all present a masculine God in relation to whom Christian heroines are fundamentaily feminized–subservient and obedient–and for whom these women figuratively act as earthly agents. Through their triumphant efforts to carry out God’s will, the warrior, the virgin martyr and the queen demonstrate the fluid association between body and gender. Their stories reveal that this interplay signifies differently between them and to an even greater extent, between them and God’s male enemies. lndeed, this link privileges the Christian, while those in the latter category – the pagan and the Jew – experience the defeat that it ultimately abets.