Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland

Lisa M. Bitel

Published by Cornell University Press, 1996
ISBN 10: 080143095X / ISBN 13: 9780801430954
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Synopsis: "This book disperses the shadows in an obscure but important landscape. Lisa Bitel addresses both the history of women in early Ireland and the history of myth, legend, and superstition which surrounded them. It is a powerful and exact book and an invaluable addition to our expanding sense of Ireland through the eyes of Irish women."--Eavan Boland, author of In a Time of Violence: Poems

"It is refreshing to read in a book by a woman on medieval women that not all clerics hated women and that not all men were oversexed villains consciously bent on exploiting women. [Bitel] challenges not only the medieval Irish male construct of female behavior, but she is also courageous enough to question constructs of medieval women invented by modern Irish medieval historians."--Times Higher Education Supplement

From the Back Cover: In Land of Women, Lisa M. Bitel systematically recovers the almost-lost society that women and men created together in Ireland. Europe between the coming of Christianity and the year 1000 has been portrayed as a world where women were either subservient to men or in rebellion against them. Bitel argues, however, that the women and men of early medieval Ireland did not always submit to patriarchal ideals of institutionalized oppression. Bitel analyzes the social roles, both restrictive and empowering, played by women in Ireland between about 700 and 1100. She focuses first on sex, love, marriage, and motherhood. She examines the economic strategies that women developed and the social networks they built in the face of men's desire to restrict their mobility. In the process, she explains the often conflicting ideas about women expressed by the writers of medieval Irish texts - a small group of literate men vowed to a religion that has always been ambivalent toward the female sex - which derived from both Christian and secular Celtic heritages. She concludes by examining the violent and powerful images of women common in the medieval literature of Ireland, asking why men's texts consistently depicted women negatively when men and women interacted in a wide variety of ways. Ultimately, Bitel maintains, early Ireland hosted a set of gender relations every bit as flexible, contradictory, and complex as our own.

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Title: Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from ...
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication Date: 1996
Book Condition: New

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Lisa M. Bitel
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Book Description Cornell University Press, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine/Near Fine. 1st Edition. A crisp clean first edition, no markings throughout, not an ex-lib: "This book disperses the shadows in an obscure but important landscape. Lis a Bitel addresses both the history of women in early Ireland and the histor y of myth, legend, and superstition which surrounded them. It is a powerful and exact book and an invaluable addition to our expanding sense of Irelan d through the eyes of Irish women."-Eavan Boland, author of In a Time of Vi olence: Poems "It is refreshing to read in a book by a woman on medieval women that not a ll clerics hated women and that not all men were oversexed villains conscio usly bent on exploiting women. Bitel challenges not only the medieval Irish male construct of female behavior, but she is also courageous enough to qu estion constructs of medieval women invented by modern Irish medieval histo rians."-Times Higher Education Supplement "Lisa M. Bitel's extraordinary excavation of pre-modern women's lives . . . is useful and fascinating. . . . Male-authored medieval texts provide acce ss to prevailing gender ideologies and at the same time reflect anxieties a bout how these ideologies were threatened by the productive reality of wome n's lives. . . . As Bitel shows in her beautifully written account, early I reland witnessed a wide range and flexibility in gender relations."-Nancy J . Curtin, Lingua Franca "An overview of this kind is not an easy undertaking. . . If by provoking the specialists Bitel gives an impulse to the indispensible groundwork, she fully deserves our gratitude."-Doris Edel, Utrecht University. Bookseller Inventory # RWARE0000020769

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