Please join the Pearl Kibre Medieval Study and the Doctoral Students’ Council on Monday, April 24th at 6 PM for a guest lecture by Kathryn Kueny of the Department of Theology at Fordham University. See below for her paper abstract and the attached flyer for further details.
Cracking the Egg, Spilling the Seed: Theologies of Procreative Deviance, Anomaly and Disruption in Medieval Muslim Thought and Practice
This paper surveys medieval Muslim bestiary works, medical writings, geographies, and other treatises to explore God’s marvelous procreative abilities and wonders, and women’s practical engagement with them through reproductive therapies. The fantastic examples of wind eggs, spontaneous generation, and metamorphosis featured in the works of Jahiz, Damiri, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Tufayl, Abu Hayyan, the Qur’an, and hadith did not just serve as divine signs, but did much to challenge orthodox models of heterosexual reproduction that privileged the active, masculine role in the generation of life. Such disruptions to the heterosexual dynamic provided productive occasions for women to engage in divine procreation via their own reproductive experiences with fertility treatments, birth control, or abortifacients. Justifications for such procreative agencies tapped into marginal theologies that highlighted a woman’s intimate and active exchanges with God, nature and her own body to prescribe maternal outcomes. These unorthodox, tacit theologies challenged elite scholars’ fixed notions of gender and authority, and their assertions that God’s transcendence prevailed over his erotic imminence.