Letter from The Editor

Dear Readers,

We are pleased to offer you our Fall 2016 issue, dedicated to the theme of “Gendered Spaces”. This issue features two main articles that both offer exciting new insights into underexplored gendered spaces in medieval literature. Our contributors focus on English chronicles and Old Irish epics which contain accounts of ethereal and (un)dead females in the Afterlife and on the battlefield, respectively. Despite being able to cross the realms of the living and the dead, these figures are not free(d) from the gendered codes of the living society.

In her article “Challenging Masculine Discourses of Violence: Posthumanist Approaches to the Figure of the Morrígan in Táin Bó Cúailnge”, Elizabeth Kempton analyzes the Morrígan, a mysterious female deity from the Irish heroic epos Táin Bó Cúailnge. Implementing Donna Haraway’s theory on cyborgs and companion species, she explores the ways in which the Morrígan serves as a destabilizing presence in a work traditionally considered as defining Irish heroic masculinity. As a haunting feminine presence, Kempton argues, the Morrígan embeds herself within the battlefield, a site for the formation of masculine virtue within the text, challenging its gendered spaces. Kempton’s argument provides new insights into the complexity of female deities in Irish mythology and the representation of the early Irish social and political systems that are deeply ingrained in the Táin Bó Cúailnge.

Candace Reilly’s article, “The Revenant: Essentialist Gender Norms in Medieval English History”, provides a commencing analysis of the gender antitheses of the revenant or walking dead, as represented in eleventh and twelfth century English chronicles. Reilly argues that depictions of the undead in these texts gesture towards medieval beliefs in an essentialist societal, gender-structured post-mortem culture. In this article, Reilly seeks to uncover the dichotomy of power given, or used, by the undead in the liminal place between death and the final afterlife. In solidifying the belief in the undead during a time of eschatological uncertainty, Reilly demonstrates the importance of the undead and how the specific representations of each gender was an amplified reflection of the dualistic gender norms played by the living. Despite supernatural attributes assigned to the undead, Reilly posits that female revenants were placed consistently in a role submissive to men, both alive and dead, indicating that the world following death was conceived as a masculine-centric space.

This issue also comprises four book reviews. Andrew Jacob Cuff reviews Christiaan W. Kappes’ The Immaculate Conception; Micah Goodrich reviews Indecent Exposure: Gender, Politics, and Obscene Comedy in Middle English Literature by Nicole Nolan Sidhu; Zachary Porcu reviews The Bishop of Rome in Late Antiquity, edited by Geoffrey C. Dunn and Natalie Whitaker reviews Jennifer D. Thibodeaux’s The Manly Priest: Clerical Celibacy, Masculinity, and Reform in England and Normandy. In addition, Arendse Lund reviews the exhibition “Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery” in our General Interest section, which is currently on show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

The Call for Papers for our Spring issue is available now — submissions are due March 1, 2017. We can also confirm that our Fall 2017 issue will be themed “Selfhood and Otherness”, co-inciding with the theme of Leeds IMC 2017. We encourage any readers who are attending Leeds as presenters to consider sending their papers for review. In particular, we welcome submissions with a methodological focus.

At this point I also want to use this space to express my thanks to our dedicated Hortulus staff, who have carried out tremendous work throughout the Fall term. Gwendolyne Knight has taken up her role as Co-Editor with great professionalism, and her accuracy and astuteness have been invaluable to the publication of this issue. Our assistant editors for this issue were Kelly Evans and Allison Jayne McCann, who did not only do a terrific job of safeguarding the peer reviewing process and preparing our articles for publication, but also helped with the final proofing of our reviews section. For many years now, we have depended on our chief reviews editor Paul Brazinski for his excellence in maintaining the high quality of our book reviews. For this issue, he worked together with his newly appointed co-editor Heidi Djuve, who has been of great assistance with the reviews section. We are confident that we can rely on Heidi for high-standard reviews in the future as she moves towards a senior position.

Lastly, we would like to thank you, our readers, for your continuous interest in Hortulus. Our journal keeps growing to become more diverse in multiple ways, strenghtening our aspirations to be a multidisciplinary platform for graduate students around the globe.

Nadine Kuipers, Hortulus Senior Editor