Venomous Tongues: Speech and Gender in Late Medieval England
Sandy Bardsley examines the complex relationship between speech and gender in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and engages debates on the static nature of women's status after the Black Death. Focusing on England, Venomous Tongues uses a combination of legal, literary, and artistic sources to show how deviant speech was increasingly feminized in the later Middle Ages. Women of all social classes and marital statuses ran the risk of being charged as scolds, and local jurisdictions interpreted the label "scold" in a way that best fit their particular circumstances. Indeed, Bardsley demonstrates, this flexibility of definition helped to ensure the longevity of the term: women were punished as scolds as late as the early nineteenth century.
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