Femininities and masculinities in medieval South Asia: Translating terminology in an intersectional world

03.10.2019

Femininities and masculinities in medieval South Asia: Translating terminology in an intersectional world

Patricia Sauthoff will give a talk at the University of Alberta's Intersections of Gender Fall Conference titled "Femininities and masculinities in medieval South Asia: Translating terminology in an intersectional world." 

Abstract
This presentation examines the issues of translation in medieval South Asian literature. Using the fifteenth century Sanskrit language alchemical work, Rasamañjarī, I present a case-study for the historical examination of masculinities and femininities. The ninth chapter of this text focuses on sexual fluids, sexual virility, and reproductive medicines. This medical literature, while written by men, did not intend to silence knowledge about women and women's bodies. Instead, it means to offer women medicines to help fertility. In some instances these medicines make the woman's body more pleasing for men, thereby making her more attractive as a possible sexual partner. The most difficult part of this translation is the word choice for anatomy, sexual attitudes, and medical conditions. Consultation of Victorian-era dictionaries leave us with out-of-date terminology such as "wanton," "barren," and "prostitute." This presentation discusses how we maintain the patriarchal attitudes of the original in pursuit of an honest translation while utilizing the most up-to-date, accepted language that removes inherent pejoratives.

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