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“She Appears as Brightly Radiant as She Once was Foul”: Medieval Conversion Narratives and Contemporary Makeover Shows

  • Angela Jane Weisl
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

On the surface of things—which is where a good portion of this inquiry takes place, although perhaps not in the same sense as the introductory phrase implies—a medieval conversion narrative and a contemporary makeover show appear to have so little in common as to be strange bedfellows. However, it is exactly at the surface, or perhaps in their understanding of the surface, that they are inextricably linked. Concerned with transformations—“the word [conversion] itself comes from a Latin word that means to change or transform one thing into another”1—both genres employ substantially similar rhetoric to reach the same goals. A process as well as an event, conversion and makeovers both work in two directions, from society inward and from the individual outward. For those in need of change (‘need’ being a fairly loosely defined term), social assumptions and conventions provide the models and options for conversion, and the transformation takes place on the body and in the mind of the individual, who then returns to society in a different place. If Hrotsvit of Gandersheim’s dramas are rarely considered in the same breath as the Learning Channel’s What Not To Wear, they—as well as many of their medieval and modern analogues—offer surprisingly similar goals, played out on the surface in unsuperficial ways.

Keywords

Internal Change Religious Conversion Religious Woman Pageant Contestant Medieval Text 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    James Muldoon, “Introduction: The Conversion of Europe,” in Varieties of Religious Conversion in the Middle Ages, ed. James Muldoon (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997), p. 1 [1–10].Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    V. Bailey Gillespie, Religious Conversion and Personal Religious Education Press, 1979), p. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 16.
    See Jacqueline de Weever, Sheba’s Daughters: Whitening and Demonizing the Saracen Woman in Medieval French Epic ( New York and London: Garland, 1998 ).Google Scholar
  4. 22.
    Suzanne Akbari, “Woman as Mediator in Medieval Depictions of Muslims: The Case of Floripas,” in Medieval Constructions in Gender and Identity: Essays in Honor of Joan M. Ferrante, ed. Teodolinda Barolini (Tempe: Arizona State University Press, 2005), p. 215 [198–224].Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Jane Gilbert, “Putting the Pulp into Fiction: the Lump-Child and Its Parents in the King of Tars”, in Pulp Fictions of Medieval England, ed. Nicola McDonald (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), p. 110 [102–23].Google Scholar
  6. 29.
    Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, “What Not To Wear at BEA,” Publisher’s Weekly, 2 May 2005: 208.Google Scholar
  7. 37.
    Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Significance of Food to Religious Women ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987 ), p. 3.Google Scholar
  8. 44.
    Myra Mendible, “Humility, Subjectivity, and Reality TV,” Feminist Media Studies 4.2 (2004): 335–36 [334–37].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Eileen A. Joy, Myra J. Seaman, Kimberly K. Bell, and Mary K. Ramsey 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Jane Weisl

There are no affiliations available

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