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Love in a hot climate: Gender relations in 'Florent et Octavien'

Nicholson, Helen Jane 2012. Love in a hot climate: Gender relations in 'Florent et Octavien'. In: Lambert, Sarah and Nicholson, Helen Jane eds. Languages of Love and Hate: Conflict, Communication and Identity in the Medieval Mediterreanean, International Medieval Research, vol. 15. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 21-36.

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In her exploration of the role of personal relationships in transgressing religious and linguistic boundaries, Nicholson echoes the point made by Ailes (in the previous chapter) that language is both reflexive and constitutive of society and culture. In 'Florent et Octavien', the exotic locations in which much of the action takes place seem at first to function as a backdrop for a story whose focus is gender rather than religious or ethnic conflict — however, this strange cultural milieu allows for an exploration of gender norms by creating a context in which norms and mores can be set aside and different modes of interaction can be imagined, ones less constrained by the customs of contemporary society. Nicholson suggests that this work can be read as an ironic attack on the conventional languages of chivalry and romance, and possibly on the conventions of the crusade cycle itself. Here, religion serves as a stand-in for longstanding and unexplained hostility of any kind: actual differences between Christianity and Islam are characterized only in their adherents’ treatment of women. There is little sense of otherness in the depiction of the Saracen and references to polygamy are the only approximations of actual features of Islamic culture. For the participants in this romance, it seems chivalry, faith, honour, are evenly divided between Christian and Muslim, and the popularly perceived gender and religious stereotypes of both cultures are mocked and overturned.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
D History General and Old World > DP Spain
D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Publisher: Brepols
ISBN: 9782503520643
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Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:39

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