Event Title

Britomart: Overcoming the Gender Binary at the House of Busirane

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Fike, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 114

Start Date

24-4-2015 2:35 PM

Description

The gender of Britomart, Edmund Spenser’s female knight of chastity in The Faerie Queene: Book III, has received widely varying interpretations. She has been considered highly masculine (Judith Anderson), fairly feminine (Tracey Sedinger), anti-patriarchal (Mary Villeponteaux), androgynous (Susan Frye), and properly balanced (Iris Tillman Hill). Most of these views participate in one part of the masculine-feminine gender binary or the other. The purpose of this paper, then, is to use the episode at the House of Busirane in cantos 11-12 to reply to these critics by showing that Britomart’s gender actually disproves the gender binary completely. The fluidity of Britomart’s gender relates to her Freudian backstory, phallic armor, the figurative castration of Busirane, and two different hermaphroditic conclusions (Book III’s alternative endings). Gender theory, psychoanalysis, and feminist criticism buttress the argument. Ultimately, because Britomart embodies both gender presentations (male and female roles) as well as neither gender presentation, her gender deconstructs the binary that has been foremost in the minds of previous critics.

Comments

Presented at the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS), April 2015

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 24th, 2:35 PM

Britomart: Overcoming the Gender Binary at the House of Busirane

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 114

The gender of Britomart, Edmund Spenser’s female knight of chastity in The Faerie Queene: Book III, has received widely varying interpretations. She has been considered highly masculine (Judith Anderson), fairly feminine (Tracey Sedinger), anti-patriarchal (Mary Villeponteaux), androgynous (Susan Frye), and properly balanced (Iris Tillman Hill). Most of these views participate in one part of the masculine-feminine gender binary or the other. The purpose of this paper, then, is to use the episode at the House of Busirane in cantos 11-12 to reply to these critics by showing that Britomart’s gender actually disproves the gender binary completely. The fluidity of Britomart’s gender relates to her Freudian backstory, phallic armor, the figurative castration of Busirane, and two different hermaphroditic conclusions (Book III’s alternative endings). Gender theory, psychoanalysis, and feminist criticism buttress the argument. Ultimately, because Britomart embodies both gender presentations (male and female roles) as well as neither gender presentation, her gender deconstructs the binary that has been foremost in the minds of previous critics.