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Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 16c - Book Appreciation with Farah Mendlesohn

(Originally aired 2017/11/18 - listen here)

Farah talks about two novels by Ellen Galford that she really enjoys for their historic elements. (And incidentally inspired me to add Moll Cutpurse to the topic list for the podcast.)

Unfortunately no transcript is available for the interview episodes at this time.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 16d - When did we become Lesbians?  - transcript

(Originally aired 2017/11/25 - listen here)

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 16b - Interview with Farah Mendlesohn

 

(Originally aired 2017/11/11 - listen here)

This collection centers around the general problem that it is anachronistic and unhistoric to pursue “pre-modern lesbians” from a desire for identity and connection, but that without this desire, the forces and filters of heteronormativity, sexism, and anti-identitarianism work to erase or dismiss the historic data that an identitarian approach is ideally suited to uncover. Historiography challenges the modern lesbian to ask “who or what would I be if I were born in a different era?” And to recognize that individual personal identity is not as fixed as current fashion holds it to be.

Margery Kempe seems to be a popular historic figure for "queering", that is, for identifying ways in which her actions and writings (and even her person) disrupted gender and sexual norms of medieval society. I'm not entirely a fan of this sort of approach.

This is a very theory-intensive book -- historiography rather than history, and not well suited for the casual reader. But there are some great discussions that made it worth tackling. The writing is very dense and my summary only touches on the outlines of the discussion rather than its specifics. Although theories about how we study and interpret history might seem rather removed from the process of writing lesbian historical fiction, from another angle, the two fields have a great deal of overlap.

One of the contradictory features of reasoning about same-sex relationships in the past is the circular logic that same-sex romantic relationships could not have been socially approved, therefore evidence showing social approval for conjunctions of two people of the same sex must not represent romantic relationships.

I've been playing around with ideas for how to use the occasional "fifth week" in the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast schedule, and the idea that keeps coming back to me with the tenacity of an affectionate cat at feeding time is to publish audio short stories that fit the theme of the Project. I bounced the idea off a few people and other than the occasional reaction of, "You know...this means you have to read a slushpile," no one tried to dissuade me.

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 16a - On the Shelf for November 2017 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2017/11/04 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for November 2017.

One of the fascinating and frustrating things about the genre of "transvestite saints," i.e., women (mostly in the early Christian era) who disguised themselves as men in order to participate in monastic devotion, is how thoroughly the stories center and elevate masculinity. One of the repeated motifs is that these gender-disguised women are approved because of the Biblical injunction to "become a man for Christ". That is, they became a more perfect type of Christian by "becoming male".

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