Perspectives On Rabbinic Constructions Of Gendered Bodies

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

The Wiley Blackwell Companion To Religion And Materiality


This chapter explores constructions of gender, the body, and materiality in rabbinic traditions from the third through seventh centuries ce . It examines rabbinic traditions about the androginos , a person who is represented as having both male and female genitalia, and suggests that these sources support a reading of rabbinic genders and bodies as proliferating beyond a male–female binary frame. It applies the concept of gender performativity to rabbinic traditions in order to further highlight the instability and potential subversion of a rigid gender duality in rabbinic constructions of gender and the body. It also considers rabbinic traditions that reflect somatic variability and malleability – again showing how these sources complicate the notion of a fixed male–female gender binary. Finally, it suggests that rabbinic bodies are sites of ‘intra‐action’ between bodies that matter and the discourse(s) that animate them.


androginos, body, gender, Judaism, Mishnah, perfomativity, primal androgyne, rabbinic literature, Talmud, Tosefta

Published By

John Wiley & Sons


V. Narayanan

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