“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, May 27, 2011

Margie Ferguson UCD Lecture 1

She's the Faculty Lectureship holder for this year—a big, big deal, the biggest my school offers, open both to scientists and humanists. And she's a good friend. So I'm going to take some notes on my esteemed colleague's lecture here.

The notion of individualism—single or inseparable (a deep ambiguity).
Contested ideas about individual versus group. Aggressive redefinition of virginity in the early Renaissance. Beth-ula (Hebrew): notion of separation. Slide of virgo intacta (from “young woman” to “virgin” in Greek).

Virginity increasingly defined as a stage of life that ended in marriage. The early Protestant state was ruled by a woman who refused to marry. Rumors that she was a virgin and a bastard. Model of the Virgin Mary.

Surgery adverts on the web: hymen (Greek, “membrane”). This term first entered English in 1615 (Crooke, Microcosmographia). Also Greek god of marriage and cries of pain or joy on crossing of threshold into married state. Hymen with torch.

Early modern skepticism about the hymen. 1693 petition of widows for redress of their grievances. “Clamor” about the loss of maidenhead.

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