What Your "Moder" Gave You: Fears and Fantasies of Maternal Heredity in Medieval England


In a heavily patrilineal society like medieval England, reproduction was meant to reinforce likeness between father and son. While medieval men might have wished to pretend otherwise, women too had a great impact on their children. Join us as Dr. Samantha Seal of UNH explores the medieval fears of the female womb and female influence on children. She’ll illustrate examples from medieval romance and the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, in which mothers subvert fathers’ biological connection with “their” sons, bestowing their own matrilineal traits— magic and monstrosity, holiness and hereditary power— and challenging which sex was the more powerful.

About the presenter: Dr. Samantha Seal is an Associate Professor of English and the Pamela Shulman Professor of European and Holocaust Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She specializes in the study of gender and race in medieval English literature, especially in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. She currently serves as a member of the editorial board of Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, held an ACLS faculty fellowship in 2019-2020, and will be a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in Spring 2023. 


Event Details


Friday, March 24, 2023 5:00pm


New Hampshire Humanities
Concord NH 03301

Hosted By:

New Hampshire Humanities

Contact Info:

New Hampshire Humanities, progams@nhhumanities.org