Medieval Travel Award Winner Lecture

A Space of Her Own: Genderfluidity and Negotiation in The Life of Christina of Markyate

Meghan Nestel
Graduate Teaching Associate/ Doctoral Candidate
ASU Department of English

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 at 1:30pm
Lattie F. Coor Hall, Room 4403
ASU Tempe Campus
Free and open to the public

Eventbrite - Medieval Travel Award Winner Lecture

Early one morning in the year 1115 or 1116, Christina of Markyate dressed in men's clothes and rode off on a horse to, if I may wax dramatic, “meet her destiny” as holy woman, visionary, and prioress. This event is noteworthy in Christina’s life not only because it marks her escape from her forced marriage and abusive parents into a religious community where she could pursue a life of prayer, virginity, and devotion to God, but because it presents a moment of transidentity in which Christina is neither fully a woman nor a man, but something in-between.

Drawing on theories of performativity and gender negotiation, this talk considers how twelfth-century holy woman Christina of Markyate resists both traditional and third-gender binary policing. She does so not only by existing in a third or alternative space, but through a process of transidentification that allows her to co-exist within and move among multiple gender spaces. As a horse-riding cross-dresser, secular virgin, masculinized virgin, and religious virgin, Christina is genderfluid, performing and being performed into multiple gender identities that allow her to establish her own authority and create a space of her own.