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Derek Jarman’s medieval blood: Queer devotion, affective medicine, and the AIDS Crisis

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pIn this article I consider medieval blood imagery in the paintings, films and journals of Derek Jarman, focusing on works made between 1989–1993. Taking a transhistorical comparative approach, I analyse Jarman's images alongside his medieval sources, primarily Julian of Norwich's Revelations and Gerard of Cremona's translation of Ibn Sīnā's (Avicenna's) al-Qa'n ū n fī al-tibb (Canon of Medicine). In addition, I find my own commonalities between Jarman and the medieval, for example, juxtaposing his Queer series of paintings with MS Egerton 1821. Critics have explored the medieval as a site of historical precedent for the stigmatisation of disease, providing a reservoir of images of leprosy and plague which inform the discourse of AIDS as immoral pollution. However I follow Jarman's lead in seeking new avenues through the medieval in relation to the AIDS crisis. Refusing to accept the discourses which cast his HIV+ blood as the ultimate symbol of pollution and death, Jarman mobilised the aesthetics and imagery of medieval affective devotion as a powerful alternative. Through the deployment of these traditions, HIV+ blood becomes holy blood, the source of salvation, desire, community and healing.</jats:p>


This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Palgrave.


4702 Cultural Studies, 4705 Literary Studies, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology, 47 Language, Communication and Culture, 4303 Historical Studies, 3 Good Health and Well Being

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Wellcome/Birkbeck 101311-14 ISSF(2)