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I’ve interleaved a fair amount of criticism and corrections inside my summary of this article, simply because I feel that the material involves so many gaps and oversights that it moves from “flawed” to “misleading”.

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.

Last week I talked about how manipulation of point-of-view can change the entire flavor of what I’m writing. This week, rather than talking about my own writing, I’d like to bring together three things that have passed through my brain recently about understanding and portraying romantic relationships between women in historical settings.

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.

But Heather (you say), you don't write horror! You don't write supernatural fiction! What do you mean you want to feature Halloween content today?

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