Medieval Misogyny and the Invention of Western Romantic Love (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, Feb 15, 2009 - Social Science - 308 pages
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Until now the advent of Western romantic love has been seen as a liberation from—or antidote to—ten centuries of misogyny. In this major contribution to gender studies, R. Howard Bloch demonstrates how similar the ubiquitous antifeminism of medieval times and the romantic idealization of woman actually are.

Through analyses of a broad range of patristic and medieval texts, Bloch explores the Christian construction of gender in which the flesh is feminized, the feminine is aestheticized, and aesthetics are condemned in theological terms. Tracing the underlying theme of virginity from the Church Fathers to the courtly poets, Bloch establishes the continuity between early Christian antifeminism and the idealization of woman that emerged in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In conclusion he explains the likely social, economic, and legal causes for the seeming inversion of the terms of misogyny into those of an idealizing tradition of love that exists alongside its earlier avatar until the current era.

This startling study will be of great value to students of medieval literature as well as to historians of culture and gender.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
Molestine Nuptiarum and the Yahwist Creation
13
Early Christianity and the Estheticization of Gender
37
Devils Gateway and Bride of Christ
65
The Poetics of Virginity
93
The Old French Lay and the Myriad Modes of Male Indiscretion
113
The Love Lyric and the Paradox of Perfection
143
Heiresses and Doawgers The Power of Women to Dispose
165
Note
199
Bibliography
271
Index
291
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