Women’s Medicine and Female Embodiment in the Morte Darthur, a Middle English Trotula Treatise, and The Mists of Avalon
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This thesis compares the representation of women’s medicine in Malory’s Morte Darthur, a Middle English Trotula treatise, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Specifically, it uses the portrayal of women healers in the Trotula treatise and The Mists of Avalon to perform a reparative reading of the Morte Darthur, filling in the gaps of women’s embodied experience that are mostly absent from Malory’s text. The intention of this thesis is not to criticize Malory for misogyny, or to rank these three texts according their level of feminism. Rather, it is to show that reading a variety of genres beside each other – a romance next to a medical treatise, next to a contemporary novel that uses écriture féminine – can reveal aspects of women’s experience in the texts that would not otherwise be visible. In short, it explores how Bradley draws on the seeds of feminism in the Arthurian legend to attempt to represent women’s embodiment more fully.