Gender and Power in Medieval Exegesis
By Theresa Tinkle
(Palgrave Macmillan, Hardcover, 9780230104358, 212pp.)
Publication Date: September 15, 2010
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Gender and Power in Medieval Exegesis analyzes the nexus of gender and power in biblical commentaries from the fifth to the fifteenth century, focusing on crucial moments in the development of exegesis. The argument pursues the literary trope of the woman on top through major literary-exegetical works: Augustine’s Confessions, Jerome’s Against Jovinian, the Fleury Slaughter of Innocents, and Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Prologue. Theresa Tinkle reveals how the authoritative woman in these works can signify either a troubling disruption of ordained social order, or an admirable inversion of order that sets the Church apart from dominant culture. Establishing a feminist-historicist perspective, this book situates exegesis in history and exposes the cultural pressures behind exegetes’ decision making.
Theresa Tinkle is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of Medieval Venuses and Cupids: Sexuality, Hermeneutics, and English Poetry and the co-editor of two volumes: The Iconic Page in Manuscript, Print, and Digital Culture (with George Bornstein), and Chaucer and the Challenges of Medievalism: Studies in Honor of H. A. Kelly (with Donka Minkova).
“Each chapter of Gender and Power in Medieval Exegesis is thoroughly researched, convincingly argued, and lucidly written. The book traces the history of masculine scholarly authority over the interpretation of both scripture and women, while simultaneously ferreting out countering gestures, sometimes in surprising places, like Augustine’s Confessions and the Fleury Slaughter of Innocents. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, though brought into being by a man, is treated in scribal marginalia as an independent voice challenging the misogyny of institutionalized exegesis. The reader encounters interpretive skill and profound learning at every turn.”—Peggy Knapp, Professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University