Of Woman Born: The Evolution of Pornography in Medieval Print Culture

Sometimes plans go astray.

In the pages that follow, I will analyze three examples of erotic Medieval materials: narratives about Saint Agatha, the Malleus Maleficarum (a handbook on witchcraft), and the works of Pietro Aretino, the so-called “father of pornography.” While the materials are drawn from different times in the Middle Ages, they present a rather coherent snapshot of the Medieval perspective on erotic materials.

At some point while writing the previous section on Saint Agatha, I passed the 4000 word mark for this project. That was when I went through a series of thoughts. 1. I was nowhere near the goal post for covering all the materials I mentioned above. 2. Covering those items, the Malleus and Aretino’s I Modi, might possibly require another 2000 words. 3. I had almost reached max capacity mentally. Finals week is hard. Very hard.

All of these thoughts left me with a few options. In the end, let’s say I arrived at my own version of the Hail Mary pass. I spent a great portion of those 4000 aforementioned words discussing, some might say justifying, a shift in the way we think of and perform academic writing. One of the things Carr mentions in The Shallows is that a digital text is never truly finished. Unlike print, which is delivered as a fait accompli, texts produced through the digital medium can be constantly updated or revised.

So, this is my living blog. I would like to make the argument to my professor (because he might be the only one to make it this far), that this project is not simply about researching erotic materials in the Middle Ages (which I did quite a bit of), it is also experimental and experiential. This last bit may be more important for my growth as a scholar than the research element. The experience of writing a blog has allowed me to bring more of my, and I hate to resort to what seems to be a rather trite expression, authentic voice.

With that being said, the last pages of this series are YET to be completed. I encourage all my visitors to enjoy the images—consider them placeholders for the time being.

Part III: Malleus Malificarum and the Demonization of Female Bodies

Hans Baldung Grien. Weather Spell, 1516. Woodcut illustration in Geiler von Kaysersberg, J. Die Emeis (Strasbourg: 1516), Universitatsbibliothek Johann Christian
Senckenberg, Frankfurt Am Main, Catalogue no. 17

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s