Medieval Intersectionality

medieval intersectionality

Medievalists have been interested in diversity, marginality and alterity for some decades. Whole sub-disciplines exist for the study of elements of the medieval, mostly European, population: women, Jews, Muslims, heretics, pagans and other ‘others’, while there are also smaller bodies of work on disability, sexuality, childhood, old age, ethnicity, social class and poverty (poverty, that is, in practice, rather than as an ideology for the spiritual benefit of the wealthy). Priority seems to have been given in modern scholarship to the study of the groups most vehemently marginalized by medieval intellectuals. Each tends to be treated as a discrete, distinct category, and frequently essentialised. They are less often examined in relation to each other, as intersecting or overlapping identities, subjectivities, experiences or externally-constructed, imposed labels; as unstable and shifting within an individual’s lifespan; and as crucial to how people experienced interactions with the various groups, communities and institutional structures which ordered their worlds.

This workshop asks speakers to reflects on ways that we might examine the multiple and complex interactions of these identities, experiences and labels, and how they shed light on the societies in which medieval people lived. It seeks to provide a forum in which medievalists in Oxford can explore comparable problems across the medieval world. We particularly welcome papers which present unfamiliar case studies, look beyond Europe or attempt novel methodological approaches. We also ask that all speakers be prepared to consider the problems and possibilities of ‘intersectionality’ as theory, theme or even praxis in the study of the middle ages.

Places are limited, so registration is essential. To register, or if you have any questions, please e-mail the organisers. A sandwich lunch will be provided free of charge for attendees.

Amanda Power (

Robin Whelan (



12:00-12:40 Registration and Lunch

12:40 Introduction

12:45-14:15 Session I

Chair: Julia Smith

Rachel Moss—‘Unpacking patriarchy: power narratives in medieval rape culture

Aleksander Paradzinski—‘Pelagia, a barbarian, a heretic, and a woman: intersectionality in late Roman Africa

Ingrid Rembold—‘Ethnicity and station: the Saxon Stellinga and social orders in ninth and tenth century narratives

Bernard Gowers—‘Systacts and literati’ 

Almut Suerbaum—‘Virgin mothers, lowly queens: multiple identities in medieval German religious writing

14:15-15:00 Coffee Break

15:00-16:30 Session II

Chair: Julia Bray

Nassima Neggaz—‘Intersectionality in Medieval Islamic Cities: Baghdad's Religious Festivals in the Buyid and Seljukid Periods (945-1157 CE)

Ann Giletti—‘Absorbing alien ideas: Christian identity and foreign philosophy in the thirteenth century

Philippa Byrne—‘Lucaera Saracenorum: building urban identity in the persecuting society

Azfar bin Anwar—‘Intersectionality of identities in medieval Islamic biographical dictionaries

Geraldine Hazbun—‘Illegitimacy and Intersectionality: the Case of Mudarra and the Seven Princes of Lara

16:30 Response: Mara Keire

Image: Averroes from The Triumph of St Thomas Aquinas, Capellone degli Spagnoli, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, c. 1366-67.


Humanities & Identities
Oxford Medieval Studies

Contact name: Sophie Marnette
Contact email:
Audience: Open to all