ENGL Medieval Working Group


Location: 116 O'Shaughnessy Hall

The next meeting of the English Medieval Working Group will be on Wednesday, November 8, at 4:00 in 116 O'Shag. The speaker will be Leanne MacDonald, who provides this title and abstract: "'Nænig mon wiste hwæðer hio wæs wer ðe wif': The Earliest Vernacular Witnesses of Gender Non-Binary Saints in The Old English Martyrology."

Although the lives of saints with multivalent gender identities would go on to be translated into over a dozen distinct language traditions in Europe and Asia throughout the Middle Ages, some of the earliest vernacular witnesses to saints who take on gender identities other than those they were assigned at birth appear in the Old English Martyrology. Though these lives were known and copied in their Latin and Greek forms for centuries before, the OEM presents the first extant attempt to intellectually engage with the ways in which gendered language functions in the lives through translation.


In my current dissertation chapter, I am building on my previous work on translation in the OEM entry on "Saint Perpetua and Felicity" as well "The Life of Saint Eugenia" in Ælfric’s Lives of Saints to show the ways in which Old English hagiographers actively shaped the presentation of saintly non-binary gender through literary and rhetorical strategies of translation and abridgement. For the working group, I want to sketch out the argument for the chapter and discuss some of the methodological issues of my research with the group.