Bodies That Speak: Early Modern European Gender Distinctions in Bleeding Corpses and Demoniacs
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This thesis examines the concept of “speaking bodies” in the early modern European world, primarily in the seventeenth century. Demoniacs and corpses that bled due to cruentation are examined comparatively through the lens of gender. Utilizing sources that include pamphlets, broadsheets, witness testimonies, and legal records, this thesis performs a close textual analysis to reveal that the gender of the speaking bodies informed contemporaries’ beliefs in the validity of a body’s speech. This thesis also argues that one form of speaking bodies – bleeding corpses – survived over another form – demoniacs – because of gender differentials. In order for a body to speak and be heard, whether through literal demonic speech or metaphorical blood, this body either had to be male, or possessed by a male spirit such as a demon.