This project has made me realise that however noble my aims were in trying to let Eleanor speak, I was ignorant to the ways in which this could become an act of historical violence. I am by no means the first queer person to try reaching back into the past.
Requesting money for [her] labour, Rykener consented,
Sex work is something that seems to have been an occupational constant for Eleanor in the years before the trial, more so than other work. In this, she seems typical of a single woman of this time period, especially one travelling in and around cities looking for work.
Caught in the middle
In recent years, scholarship has begun to reckon with the haunting of medieval studies by the colonial past. Maybe ‘haunt’ is the wrong word to properly account for the tangibility of this impact, and too easily suggests that this power is produced solely by the past.
To Eleanor, sweeter than honey or honeycomb,
The documentation of oppressed lives is too often confined to the courtroom, or otherwise filtered through a privileged lens. Eleanor Rykener’s case is typical - her words translated, exposed to prying eyes, future uncertain.
This week I've wanted to explore the ways in which gender nonconformity did not always stand in contrast to religious fervour. In what ways could Eleanor Rykener - poor, female, and a sodomite - understand herself in the context of the divine?
calling [herself] Eleanor / se Elianoram nominans
At some point in the 1920s, tucked somewhere deep in the Corporation of London Records Office, A. H. Thomas read the first case on second membrane of Plea and Memoranda Roll A34, and (possibly) blushed.