Rachel Hayes: 'Gender, Deleuze and the Roman de Silence'


2 Mar 2022

Session: Rachel Hayes (University of Warwick) 'Gender, Deleuze and the Roman de Silence'

The complex representations of gender in the Roman de Silence have been the focus of much scholarly interest. The romance reveals fissures in a supposed dichotomy between men and women and their roles in society, cracking the paradigm that medieval gender formation can be reduced to a simple binary. Silence’s existence is marked by a multiplicity that cannot be contained in a cisheteronormative matrix, despite the attempts of the narrator to contain the protagonist within one at the end of the romance. Silence’s upbringing troubles the structures that governed medieval society, such as family and inheritance, whilst representing the character’s ability to live both in and in spite of them. Reading the romance alongside Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s Mille Plateaux, and focussing in particular on the rhizome, provides a lens through which resistance to static representation can be further explored, thereby foregrounding the intersecting dimensions of Silence’s identity and their potential to coexist.