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In this article the author examines the composition of convent libraries in Renaissance Europe-specifically, Italy and Spain. While much research on monastic libraries has occurred, little has concerned convent libraries. They are unique because they include writing both by and for women. The author used previous historical research to form an overview of a convent library's composition. Examining monastic and Tridentine rules regarding literature collected and produced in convents allows one to understand if ecclesiastical legislation restricted convent literature. From there, examining scribal work performed in convents, a few known convent holdings, and the works written by nuns themselves can illuminate the holdings of a convent library. These methods lead to the conclusion that convent libraries contained collections rich in social history and women's history because they contained some of the only literature by, for, and about women.
The fifteen hagiographies about holy women of the Syrian Orient collected here include stories of martyrs' passions and saints' lives, pious romances and personal reminiscences. Dating from the fourth to seventh centuries A.D., they are translated from Syriac into accessible and vivid prose. Annotations and source notes by the translators help clarify elements that may be unfamiliar to some readers. This collection bears witness to the profound contributions women made to early Chistianity: their various roles, their leadership inside and outside the church structure, and their power to influence others. A new preface discusses recent developments in the field and updates the bibliography.
Publication Date: Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983
Margery Kempe, a middle-class English housewife at the turn of the fifteenth century, was called to weep and to pray for her fellow Christians and to adopt an unconventional way of life. Separating herself from her husband and many children, she became a pilgrim travelling around England and as far away as Jerusalem. In old age, she dictated to scribes an autobiography that recounts her extraordinary intimacy with Christ as well as her intense, commotion-filled life.
At first glance, she does not seem very saintly in character or disposition, and her spiritual experiences can easily appear to be extreme or egotistical. To appreciate and interpret Margery Kempe's life and spirituality properly, one must go beyond conventional categories of social and religious history. In Mystic and Pilgrim, Clarissa Atkinson does this from six perspectives: the character of Margery's autobiography, her mysticism and pilgrim way of life, her social and family environment, her relations with her church and its clergy, the tradition that shaped her piety, and the context of late medieval female sanctity.
Publication Date: New York: Fordham University Press, 2014
Religious Women in Early Carolingian Francia, a groundbreaking study of the intellectual and monastic culture of the Main Valley during the eighth century. The author explores how one group of religious women helped to shape the culture of medieval Europe through the texts they wrote and copied, as well as through their editorial interventions. Using compelling manuscript evidence, she argues that the content of the women's books was overwhelmingly gender-egalitarian and frequently feminist (i.e., resistant to patriarchal ideas). This intriguing book provides unprecedented glimpses into the "feminist consciousness" of the women's and mixed-sex communities that flourished in the early Middle Ages.
Call Number: Architecture and Fine Arts Library: BX4700.H5 S25 2019
Publication Date: Milan, Italy: Skira; 2019
Before Hilma af Klint and Emma Kunz, there was Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) the German abbess, composer, writer, artist and mystic, who until now was probably best known, in the English-speaking world, for her music and her writings. Von Bingen completed her first visionary work of art around 1152: SCIVIAS (Know the Ways) is the story of the journey in which the humanity, or bright stars in Eve's womb, join with the stars in the sky; a possibility offered to each soul, to return back to the Light of the origins of the Earth. An experience belonging to Hildegard in her visions and narrated, in obedience to the voice of God, leaving behind her fears, in a precious manuscript where images make the story come alive. The complexity of the prophetic text is difficult for our present times to access, leaving the images enveloped in a kind of symbolism that is hard to decipher. A Journey into the Images of Hildegard von Bingen is born in the hopes of satisfying this desire for knowledge, revealing the Ways the title of the work promises, in a reading guided by images. The central pages present the 35 original-size miniature reproductions with alongside a key that easily illustrates the symbolic meaning and a concise description of the vision. These Plates that offer a grammar of symbols are followed by richly illustrated pages of rhetoric, a themed reading that crosses the entire work where the details of the figures are highlighted against the miniatures. Here each element of the images - colours, frames, forms, numbers - is not random and, after crossing the threshold, leads inside the work. All seems interrelated and connected in an admirable unitary design where the traveller may virtually enter thanks to an accurate 3D reconstruction. The numerous quotations in the text let us be accompanied on this journey by the living voice and figure of this Saint and Doctor of the Church, narrated in the initial Portrait, a real witness to the possibility of walking along the Ways.
Publication Date: New York: Cambridge University Press: 2014
This book investigates the "owner portrait" in the context of late-medieval devotional books primarily from France and England. These mirror-like pictures of praying book owners respond to and help develop a growing concern with visibility and self-scrutiny that characterized the religious life of the laity after the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The image of the praying book owner translated preexisting representational strategies concerned with the authority and spiritual efficacy of pictures and books, such as the Holy Face and the donor image, into a more intimate and reflexive mode of address in Psalters and Books of Hours created for lay users. Alexa Sand demonstrates how this transformation had profound implications for devotional practices and for the performance of gender and class identity in the striving, aristocratic world of late medieval France and England.
Call Number: AVAILABLE ONLINE AND at Doheny Memorial Library: BV5077.E85 B46 2004
Publication Date: New York: Routledge, 2004
This study examines partnerships between medieval women and scribes. Kimberly Benedict argues that medieval female visionaries often play prominent roles in collaboration while their male amanuenses serves as supports and foils.
Publication Date: Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016
Cyrus demonstrates the prevalence of manuscript production by women monastics and challenges current assumptions of how manuscripts circulated in the late medieval period.
Literary Medieval and Early Modern Women
Epistolae: Medieval Women's Letters - "The letters collected here date from the 4th to the 13th centuries, and they are presented in their original Latin as well as in English translation. The letters are organized by the name and biography of the women writers or recipients. Biographical sketches of the women, descriptions of the subject matter of the letters, and the historical context of the correspondence are included where available.”
Medieval Manuscripts: Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock. Gisela of Kerzenbroeck, or, as she is also known, Gisela von Kerssenbrock, was a nun in the Cistercian convent of Marienbrunn, located in Rulle, a little village in the lower Saxony, near Osnabrück. She was one of the very few women who dedicated their life to writing and illustrating manuscripts. Her most famous work is the Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock, or Codex Gisle, a liturgical chant book written around the XIV Century. The book contains 53 historiated initials, depicting the life of Christ, from the visit of Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin to his Ascension to Heaven. She left a trace of her own life experience onto the manuscript: the Christmas and Easter illuminations include images of kneeling nuns, and one of them in particular features Gisela herself directing the choir.This great number of images, very literal in their quotation of the Liturgy, makes this book one of the most decorated manuscript of its genre. This siteIncludes a video (1.32 mins.) also available on YouTube.
By Susan Bell in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 1982-07-01, Vol.7 (4), p.742-768. This article was the pioneer establishing the influence of lay-women in medieval manuscript book culture. In it, Bell argues that book-owning women influenced lay piety and vernacular literature in the later Middle Ages.
Dedicated to the preservation of early modern women writings, this collection consists of over 230 digitized manuscripts originally composed between 1500 and 1700 in the British Isles and now located in 15 libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom. The resource is provided by Adam Matthew.
The collection encompasses devotional writings, autobiographic material, cookery and medical recipes, and accounts.
Call Number: Doneny Memorial Library: HQ1143 .S55 1989
Publication Date: Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989
Focusing on medieval women with a wide range of occupations and life-styles, the interdisciplinary essays in this collection examine women's activities within the patriarchal structures of the time. Individual essays explore women's challenges to a sexual ideology that confined them strictly to the roles of wives, mothers, and servants. Also included are sections on women and work, cultural production and literacy, and religious life. These essays provide a greater understanding of the ways in which gender has played a part in determining relations of power in Western cultures. This volume makes a vital contribution to the current scholarship about women in the Middle Ages.
Publication Date: New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
This book explores knightly stories of medieval manners and is a commentary on what people in the middle ages wore, how they prayed and what they hoped for in this life and the next. These stories range from the shockingly bawdy to the deeply pious, and often end with morals about the ways women can avoid 'blame, shame, and defame'.
Translated from the German by Thomas Dunlap A classic study of the rise and fall of Medieval courtly culture, now available in paperback. Bumke overlooks no detail in this exhaustive and definitive study, in which he challenges the myth that the idealised patterns of behaviour in courtly literature, in particular the notion of courtly love, are an accurate reflection of the reality of aristocratic life.
Call Number: Doheny Memorial Library: HQ615 .F64 2001
Publication Date: New York: Palgrave; 2001
Drawing upon a wide range of historical research, Family and Household in Medieval England offers a stimulating and engaging introduction to the formative period of one of the central institutions of western society. The family and household together provided the basic unit of social organisation in the Middle Ages, and this period saw the emergence of many aspects of modern life, not least the marriage service and its attendant ceremonies. The family was one of the few experiences or institutions common to every rank of medieval society, from princes to peasants. The centrality of this theme is reflected in the breadth of topics considered here, which embrace demography, the law, theology and popular belief, property-holding, employment, and, of course, love and emotional relationships. These areas are explored in a clear and accessible manner. After discussing the family in the religious and legal traditions from the late classical and barbarian periods to the Middle ages, the book adopts a 'life-cycle' approach to the history of the medieval English family, beginning with courtship and marriage, encompassing childbirth and the parent-child relationship along the way, through to the dissolution of marriage, either by death or separation, and ending with a discussion of widowhood, wardship and retirement. The text is illuminated with examples from the experiences of people from all levels of medieval soicety, reflecting the diversity of family life in this period. The history of the family touches upon the most intimate areas of life, and Fleming never forgets that it is real people, who possessed complex emotions, sensibilities and private lives, who form the heart of this study.
Call Number: Doheny Memorial Library: HQ513 .M42 2004
Publication Date: Toronto: Published by University of Toronto Press in association with the Medieval Academy of America, c2004
During the past thirty years, the study of medieval families has emerged as a focus of discussion in European history. Largely unexplored in professional publications and teaching curricula until the 1970s, family history is now accepted as an aspect of medieval history essential to the development of the period's institutions and culture, and a field useful to comparative family studies. The present volume brings together essays by historians, art historians, and literary scholars about the structures, social functions, and emotional characteristics of families in the middle ages, from demographic, legal, theological, art historical, and literary sources according to a broad array of theoretical approaches. Presenting these materials in the chronological order of its constituent articles' publication, the collection reveals how scholars of the 1970s through the 1990s argued the importance of previously unconsidered questions about the shape of medieval familial experience, and how their mutual information and criticism has refined and added to this investigation in the intervening period. The introduction and bibliography enable both beginning students and medievalists newly interested in family studies to set the articles gathered here in the context of the later twentieth-century transformation of medieval studies and, more broadly, historical scholarship. These supporting materials, like the eleven articles, affirm the profoundly interdisciplinary character of contemporary medieval studies.
Focusing on women from Western Europe between c. 300 and 1500 CE in the medieval period and richly carpeted with detail, A Medieval Woman's Companion offers a wealth of information about real medieval women who are now considered vital for understanding the Middle Ages in a full and nuanced way.
Publication Date: New York: H. Holt and Company, 1914
This book presents a synthetic history of the family--the most basic building block of medieval Jewish communities--in Germany and northern France during the High Middle Ages. Concentrating on the special roles of mothers and children, it also advances recent efforts to write a comparative Jewish-Christian social history. Elisheva Baumgarten draws on a rich trove of primary sources to give a full portrait of medieval Jewish family life during the period of childhood from birth to the beginning of formal education at age seven. Illustrating the importance of understanding Jewish practice in the context of Christian society and recognizing the shared foundations in both societies, Baumgarten's examination of Jewish and Christian practices and attitudes is explicitly comparative. Her analysis is also wideranging, covering nearly every aspect of home life and childrearing, including pregnancy, midwifery, birth and initiation rituals, nursing, sterility, infanticide, remarriage, attitudes toward mothers and fathers, gender hierarchies, divorce, widowhood, early education, and the place of children in the home, synagogue, and community. A richly detailed and deeply researched contribution to our understanding of the relationship between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors, Mothers and Children provides a key analysis of the history of Jewish families in medieval Ashkenaz.
Call Number: Doheny Memorial Library: HQ615 .H36 1986
Publication Date: New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
(…) The thesis of this book is that the biological needs served by the family have never changed and the way fourteenth-century peasants coped with such problems as providing for both the newborn and the aged, controlling premarital sex, and alleviating the harshness of their material environment was not altogether unlike our twentieth-century solutions. Using a variety of medieval sources, notably over 3,000 coroners' inquests into accidental deaths, the author emphasizes the continuity of the nuclear family from the middle ages into the modern period and explores the reasons for such families being the basic unit of society and the economy. the book abounds in fascinating detail, here citing an incantation against rats, there noting the hierarchy of bread consumption ("our modern supermarket bread could be seen as the ultimate fulfillment of the peasants' dream of white bread"), or the games people played. The book makes abundantly clear that what we popularly think of as the dark ages are really filled with sunlight as well as shadows and with the doings of ordinary people who must get on with the business of living and find some joy in it.