Medieval texts analyzed with queer lens

Cassandra Martinez, Staff writer

Linfield’s English department hosted the first lecture of a new series in the Austin Reading Room on Wednesday afternoon.

Professor Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt introduced the new concept of this lecture series called “The Hungry Minds: The Arts & Humanities Lecture Series.”

She explained that it is a platform for faculty members in the humanities to present their work for students and other Linfield faculty. “The purpose of The Hungry Mind will be to showcase our own Arts and Humanities faculty and their cutting edge research once a semester,” Dutt-Ballerstadt said.

Dr. Jamie Friedman, who has been part of the English faculty for two years, presented a lecture titled “Queering the English Middle Ages: Female Homoeroticism, Transgender Lives and the Medieval Queer Possible.” English department chair Barbara Seidman introduced Friedman’s lecture.

Friedman used queer theory to analyze medieval texts to see if there were characters with queer lives. She argued that queer reading practices can help to illuminate those lives in the present.

In her lecture, she discussed how these specific texts offer a chance for characters to explore genders that aren’t an option in other genres at the time. These characters not only embraced their reverse gender in physical looks, but also in personality.

She brought up some recognizable character names that embrace those particular actions in other works or well-known references, like Joan of Arc and Wonder Woman.

After the lecture, Friedman answered some audience questions and commented on her research.

Junior English major Adrian Iu who attended Friedman’s lecture said, “Jamie’s approach is very fresh in a sense that it satisfies the character’s desire rather than satisfies the reader’s.”