Virgin Envy
The Cultural (In)Significance of the Hymen
ISBN: 978-0-88977-423-0
Series: The Exquisite Corpse 2
Year: 2016
Pages: 256
Binding: Paperback

Virgin Envy sets out to re-conceive the ways that we describe and relate to virginity as a cultural construct. Examining everything from medieval romance to Bollywood to Twilight and True Blood, the contributors to this volume destabilize many of the “certainties” about this problematic idea. In particular, the hymen – generally understood of as the sign of virginity – is called into question. What happens to those who do not have a hymen? How do we account for the medicalization of virginity via the hymen and the ways in which the “geography of the hymen” has changed over the course of history? Contributors also attend to questions of nation-states, post-coloniality, religious diversity, violence, and virginity, as well as queer virginities.


Table of Contents




Introduction: “Our Tantalizing Double”: Envious Virgins, Envying Virgins, Virgin Envy

            Jonathan A. Allan, Cristina Santos, and Adriana Spahr


Part 1: Too Much Pain for Such a Little Reward

1          “I will cut myself and smear blood on the sheet”: Testing Virginity in Medieval and Modern Romance            Amy Burge

2          Between Pleasure and Pain: The Textual Politics of the Hymen

            Jodi McAlister


Part 2: Blood, Blood, Blood … and More Blood

3          The Politics of Virginity and Abstinence in the Twilight Saga

            Jonathan A. Allan and Cristina Santos

4          Lady of Perpetual Virginity: Jessica’s Presence in True Blood

            Janice Zehentbauer and Cristina Santos


Part 3: Men Be Virgins Too: Queering Virginity

5          The Queer Saint: Male Virginity in Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane Kevin McGuinness

6          Troping Boyishness, Effeminacy and Masculine Queer Virginity: Abdellah Taïa and Eet- Chékib Djaziri Gibson Ncube


Part 4:            F*ck: They Entrapped Us in Social Issues and Politics

7          Bollywood Virgins: Diachronic Flirtations With Indian Womanhood Asma Sayed

8          The Policing of Viragos and Other ‘Fuckable’ Bodies: The Politics of Virginity in Latin American Women’s Testimony Tracy Crowe Morey and Adriana Spahr


About the Contributors


Jonathan A. Allan

Jonathan A. Allan is Canada Research Chair in Queer Theory and Assistant Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Brandon University. He is at work on his second book, Uncut: The Foreskin Archive.

Cristina Santos

Cristina Santos is an Associate Professor at Brock University. Her current research investigates the monstrous depictions of women as aberrations of feminine nature vis-à-vis the socio-culturally proscribed norm. Publications include Defiant Deviance: The Irreality of Reality in the Cultural Imaginary; The Monster Imagined: Humanity's Re-Creation of Monsters and Monstrosity; and Monstrous Deviations in Literature and the Arts.

Adriana Spahr

Adriana Spahr received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. She is an Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. She explores the interdisciplinary connections between cultural and political components in Latin American literature, especially in Argentina. Her last co-authored book, Madre de Mendoza/Mother of Mendoza, reflects her current research interest in testimonial literature.
The Creative Industries Transition Fund is made possible through funding that was provided to the Saskatchewan Arts Board by the Government of Saskatchewan through the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport.