In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

RESPONSE TO "USING LITERARY TEXTS IN A HISTORY OF SEXUALITY" Jean Dangler Florida State University A renowned medievalist in English was once asked what he thought about Foucault's remarks on the frequent blurring of historical and literary discourse. He maintained in an unmistakable way that to equate a literary work with a historical document was disrespectful and offensive to people in the past. Since I have never wanted to offend or disrespect subjects in history , I've thought long and hard about his response. I don't think that Foucault and other contemporary theorists mean to say that all texts are the same, whether in the present or in the past. Instead, these critics show that discourses often overlap, and that separations between textual categories are not always absolute. As we know, many of their ideas have contributed to recent revisions of the categories and values that modern scholars traditionally apply to medieval writings. So like many of you here today, I imagine, I've come to the conclusion that the effort to glean knowledge about medieval people and cultural values from what we have come to call "literary texts" does not denote an irreverence or discourtesy towards medieval subjects. Rather, it can uncover information and knowledge about topics otherwise thought to be difficult to derive, such as the history of sexuality. This is, in part, what our three diverse presenters have shown today , with topics and materials spanning the medieval and modern periods. Louise Vasvári has demonstrated that the language ofJuan Ruiz's Libro de buen amor conveys significant meaning about medieval sexuality. In her essay in Queer Iberia, she focused on the lascivious and often obscene game of dominance and submission enacted with that language. Here she has centered on philology's obstruction of issues about sexuality, and on the orality of the written text. In his La corónica 30.1 (Fall, 2001): 244-47 Return to Queer Iberia245 contribution to Queer Iberia, Daniel Eisenberg argued that the mad or crazy love in the Libro de buen amor was love between men, and that Juan Ruiz was heterosexist in his silence about it. He framed these observations within a larger social and political context, namely, the late medieval effort to distance Iberian Christian kingdoms from hybrid , multisexual Al-Andalus. Today he has shown in greater detail the historical ramifications ofthat connection. And finally, in her study of the camp aesthetic of two contemporary Spanish writers, Carlos Varo and Lluis Fernandez, Leora Lev has shown that queer medieval Iberia continues to impact the ways in which artists in post-Franco Spain envision and create modern queer identities. Each of these presenters relies on an intimate link between literature and historical events. But one of the elements that most connects their talks is the implied political, cultural, and linguistic significance of Al-Andalus. These panelists have directly or indirectly shown that the Andalusi region was as important for its cultural contributions and ideology as it was for its status as a religious and political rival for Christians to fight against, especially from the fourteenth century on. Eisenberg has made the provocative claim that the Iberian expulsion of Muslims and Jews by the Reyes Católicos and later monarchs was based, in part, on the effort to differentiate between the heterosexuality of Christians and Christianity and the queer sexualities of Muslims and Islam. I have always been fascinated by this most apt concept, and have been drawn by Eisenberg's application of it to the Libro de buen amor. However, I find it difficult to reconcile the Libro's supposed antiqueer project with the ways in which it accommodates itself to different readers. The notion of the Libro as heterosexual propaganda positioned against sexual "others" seems incompatible with its lack of definition and fixedness in so many other areas. I wonder how to resolve this doubt. Al-Andalus significantly affects the Libro de buen amor in other ways, such as in the linguistic game of domination and subjugation that Vasvári mentions here and describes more fully in her essay in Queer Iberia. This game is similar to the sexual model Steven Oberhelman identifies in classical Arabic poetry...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 244-247
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.