Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

Taming Wild Women in Des Grands Géants: Lessons from the Past for the 13th Century Audience.

Department

Modern Languages & Literatures Department

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

The epic Des Grands géants is an Anglo-Norman text, written towards the end of the 13th century. The author places his story after the creation of the world, more specifically in 3970 BC, during the reign of a powerful Greek king. The tale focuses not so much on the giants but on their mothers, the first settlers of Albion, thirty maidens, all sisters, who violently rebelled against their father and their new husbands, refused their assigned roles as daughters, wives and future mothers, and instead plotted to kill their husbands. As a punishment, they were exiled from their kingdoms and cast away to a certain death. The women survived however, and landed on a wild and deserted island where they organized themselves into an autonomous female society. A close reading of this text reveals astonishing series of transgressions at the core of which is female sexuality. It provides especially provocative insights into the position of women in thirteenth century society, addressing several issues pertinent to women and sexuality: Women within the boundaries of marriage, the submissive versus the independent nature of women, women and procreation and the nature of womens sexuality.

Conference Name

Keene Medieval Forum

Conference Location

Keene, NH

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