Workshop: Body, Gender, Purity, and Sexual Pleasure: Biblical and Medieval Models

Friday November 19th 13.00-14.30 

Location: St John’s College, New Seminar Room

In medieval Europe, Jews and Christians put some of the same cultural resources (the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) to different uses. Stereotypes abound here: Judaism is seen to be preoccupied with ritual pollution, Christianity with moral purity; Judaism is anxious about food, but celebrates marital sex. Christianity has fewer food laws, but many more anxieties about sexual activity—and about the body as a potential source of sin. All of these dichotomic assumptions invite renewed critical scrutiny—especially in a comparative framework—and a re-consideration of the biblical directives both cultures were grappling with.  

This workshop brings together expertise from the early, central, and late Middle Ages (respectively, Conrad Leyser, Neta Bodner, and Alice Raw), in conversation with Laura Quick’s expertise in the Hebrew Bible. Participants are invited to read with us to question how the body was treated, even used, as a vehicle for “correct” piety in ways that both differ and intersect across the Middle Ages. 

Spaces are limited to 30 participants; please sign up here:

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