Queerly Productive: Women and Collaboration in Cambridge, University Library MS Ff.1.6
20 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2018
Date Written: November 30, 2017
Cambridge, University Library MS Ff. 1. 6 (the Findern manuscript) offers a test case for a speculative exploration of the role of female queer desire in medieval theorizations of textual collaboration, and collaborative manuscript production. I argue that, whereas masculine queer desire is represented as resulting in textual as well as sexual sterility, female queer desire is potentially hyper-productive, with each female body simultaneously an inscribable surface and a prosthetic pen/penis that can inscribe. In the Findern manuscript, the narrative of the mutilated Philomena provides the nexus for multiple interrelating and mutually modifying representations of female vocality, female desire, and female-female relations that range from the supportive to the erotic. The manuscript’s examples of collaboratively produced texts model ways to break away from the hierarchal model of inscriber and inscribed, masculine and feminine, and produce spaces in which desiring female speakers can recuperate from the wounds of the masculine paradigm of textual inscription, and develop their own female-centric modes of erotic expression.
Keywords: Findern Manuscript, Female Same-Sex Desire, Lesbian, Scribal Collaboration, Queer Manuscripts
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