Constructions of Widowhood and Virginity in the Middle Ages
To be a virgin or a widow never promised a stable, uniform status to a woman during the Middle Ages. Rather, these positions were areas open to debate, constructions that did and still do create and question notions of gender roles, areas of power, areas of disability. For example, chastity is an apparent given for both positions, but the chastity involved may have a number of possible cultural meanings or uses. Constructions of Widowhood and Virginity in the Middle Ages addresses many facets of these two female positions in medieval literature: gender constructions; the body and what it means to make it visible, whether in admiration, torture, or martyrdom; issues of physicality and abjection; creations of literary voice for women who write or create situations for them to be written about. A distinguished group of female scholars examine the meanings behind widowhood and virginity both individually and in relation to each other. The focus on both positions in the same volume makes Constructions of Widowhood and Virginity in the Middle Ages an unprecedented work.