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The Story of the Traveling Vulva: Medieval Genitalia Badges - Recording

The Story of the Traveling Vulva: Medieval Genitalia Badges - Recording

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In the last 200 years, hundreds of Late Medieval metal badges depicting genitals were discovered along the rivers of Europe. These badges showcase genitals performing activities ranging from the mundane (climbing ladders), to the strange (vulvas on stilts). Who made these badges? And why? What can we learn from them about the connections between silliness, catastrophe, and taboo?

In this talk, art historian, writer, and educator Noam Yadin-Evron examines the history and iconography of these badges and place them within Medieval society: a society that, just like ours today, reacted to disasters and the fear of the unknown not just with fear and religiosity, but also with humour and absurdity. These badges offer an alternative view of of western Medieval people, and particularly of the role sex and nudity had in their lives. Unlike the sombre, prudish images we have of them today, Medieval people did not shy away from the crude or the explicit. Considering these subversive images of genitals just doing their thing, illuminates lesser known aspects of European material history. It can also offer us another perspective to examine how we think of the past, and of our own confusing present.

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