Non-Fiction Books:

Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages

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Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages by Kathleen Coyne Kelly
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Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages opens with a survey of classical and medieval medical treatises that offer advice on verifying female virginity - and sometimes suggest ways to fake it. Then, proofs of virginity as they recur throughout Christian hagiography (particularly when the virgin is threatened with rape) are discusses, as well as the chastity test or ordeal as it is represented in vernacular romance. The representation of the male virgin in hagiography and romance is also analysed. Finally, the author explores examples from contemporary fiction, television and film in which testing virginity is a theme. Performing Virginity and Testing Chastity in the Middle Ages presents a compelling and provocative study of virginity, which challenges the belief that female virginity can be reliably and unambiguously defined, tested and verified.
Release date NZ
February 3rd, 2000
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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