May 17: SoJung Kim, “De-Orientalizing the Vernacular Theo-poetics of Beguines”

Tuesday, May 17, 12:00-1:15pm (Swift 208)
SoJung Kim: De-Orientalizing the Vernacular Theo-poetics of Beguines

Abstract: In this paper, I want to recalibrate Gayatri Spivak’s famous interrogation, “Can the subaltern speak?” for a certain occidental group of women: Beguines. 1) Can and do Beguines in late medieval Christianity speak? 2) In what ways are Beguines speaking within the context of the 13-14th centuries in late medieval Western Europe? This paper does not discuss the so-called “post-colonial theology” that rewrites the history of Christendom as an “imperial” and “colonizing” force. Nor does this paper generally describe who these Beguines were (biographies) and what they spoke (texts). Beguines’ biographical information and textual contents are indeed varied and ambiguous. Their geo-cultural locations were divergent and late medieval Western Europe was not homogenous. I employ the post-colonial inquiry about “Orientalized/subaltern wo/men,” because such inquiry can be useful in situating the plight of Beguines in relation to their use of plural vernacular tongues. In other words, this paper concentrates on the issue of how they speak (pragmatics), rather than what they speak (texts) and who they are (biographies).

Lunch will be provided.