Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sexuality and Gender in the German Reformation

This interesting talk by Prof. Lyndal Roper looks at Martin Luther not as a theologian but in terms of gender, defined sociologically.  Listen to the talk if that is what interests you here.  What I wish to comment on briefly is the tabu subject of sexuality in the study of History.  After listening to this talk, it occurred to me that sex seems to be absent from history and gender exists in the academic ghetto of women's studies or as it is now usually labelled, gender studies.  Prof. Roper's talk is a case in point as gender is the focus of her research.  I suppose it might be the social scientific need to compartmentalise all study and avoid holistic surveys that bring a broad understanding of humanity.  But what about the place of sex itself in this whole?  Prof. Roper presented a convincing and fascinating glimpse into Luther's character but I wonder at the whole man.  At the end she notes rather tantalisingly that Luther, towards the end of his life became impotent and wrote a letter of apology to his wife for this impotence.  This suggests a different sort of man than the strutting, aggressive style of masculinity she gives Luther in the balance of her talk. What impact did Luther's attitude towards appropriate male sexuality both in terms of its use as a weapon against male opponents and its use in a full love with females?

I wonder. But whatever the answer you won't find this being researched and taught and discussed in undergraduate or graduate classrooms outside of gender studies.

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