Gendering Disgust in Medieval Religious Polemic


Gendering Disgust in Medieval Religious Polemic

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In Gendering Disgust in Medieval Religious Polemic, Alexandra Cuffel analyzes medieval Jewish, Christian, and Muslim uses of gendered bodily imagery and metaphors of impurity in their visual and verbal polemic against one another. Drawing from a rich array of sources–including medical texts, bestiaries, Muslim apocalyptic texts, midrash, biblical commentaries, kabbalistic literature, Hebrew liturgical poetry, and theological tracts from late antiquity to the mid-fourteenth century–Cuffel examines attitudes toward the corporeal body and its relationship to divinity. She shows that these religious traditions shared notions of the human body as distasteful, with many believers viewing corporeality and communion with the divine as incompatible. In particular, she explores how authors from each religious tradition targeted the woman s body as antithetical to holiness.

Foul smell, bodily fluids and states, and animals were employed by these religious communities as powerful tro