'And then he, completely astonished at her words, left off his lewdness, saying to her as many a man had done before, "Either you are a truly good woman or else a truly wicked woman." ' Brave, outspoken and guaranteed to annoy people wherever she went - including exasperated fellow pilgrims in Jerusalem and her long-suffering husband - Margery Kempe was one of the most vivid and unforgettable voices of the Middle Ages. Whether travelling alone, getting herself arrested or having visions of marrying Jesus, Margery repeatedly defied feminine convention - and also managed to compose the first autobiography in English, despite being unable to read or write. One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries - including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.
Explores the role of European women in the Middle Ages, discussing specifically the relationship between women and religion, work, family, law, and culture and noting the differences wrought by class, age, marital status, and region and time period.
The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe provides a comprehensive overview of the gender rules encountered in Europe in the period between approximately 500 and 1500 C.E. It contains material from some of the foremost scholars in this field, and will not only serve as the major reference text in the area of medieval and gender studies, but will also provide the agenda for future new research.
This collection is the first critical and theoretical study of women as the subjects of writing and as writers in Medieval and Early-Modern Scottish literature. The essays draw on a diverse range of literary, historical, cultural and religious sources in Scots, Gaelic and English to discover the complex ways in which 'Woman' was represented and by which women represented themselves as creative subjects. Woman and the Feminine in Medieval and Early Modern Scottish Writing brings to light previously unknown writing by women in the early modern period and offers as well new interpretations of early Scottish texts from feminist and theoretical perspectives.
In Bodytalk, E. Jane Burns contends that female protagonists in medieval texts authored by men can be heard to talk back against the stereotyped and codified roles that their fictive anatomy is designed to convey.
In the urban communities of medieval Germany and northern France, the beliefs, observances, and practices of Jews allowed them to create and define their communities on their own terms as well as in relation to the surrounding Christian society. Although medieval Jewish texts were written by a learned elite, the laity also observed many religious rituals as part of their everyday life. In Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz, Elisheva Baumgarten asks how Jews, especially those who were not learned, expressed their belonging to a minority community and how their convictions and deeds were made apparent to both their Jewish peers and the Christian majority. Practicing Piety in Medieval Ashkenaz provides a social history of religious practice in context, particularly with regard to the ways Jews and Christians, separately and jointly, treated their male and female members. Medieval Jews often shared practices and beliefs with their Christian neighbors, and numerous notions and norms were appropriated by one community from the other. By depicting a dynamic interfaith landscape and a diverse representation of believers, Baumgarten offers a fresh assessment of Jewish practice and the shared elements that composed the piety of Jews in relation to their Christian neighbors.
The study of medieval literature has experienced a revolution in the last two decades, which has reinvigorated many parts of the discipline and changed the shape of the subject in relation to the scholarship of the previous generation. 'New' texts (laws and penitentials, women's writing, drama records), innovative fields and objects of study (the history of the book, the study of space and the body, medieval masculinities), and original ways of studying them (the Sociology of the Text, performance studies) have emerged. This has brought fresh vigour and impetus to medieval studies, and impacted significantly on cognate periods and areas. The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English brings together the insights of these new fields and approaches with those of more familiar texts and methods of study, to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of medieval literature today. It also returns to first principles in posing fundamental questions about the nature, scope, and significance of the discipline, and the directions that it might take in the next decade. The Handbook contains 44 newly commissioned essays from both world-leading scholars and exciting new scholarly voices. Topics covered range from the canonical genres of Saints' lives, sermons, romance, lyric poetry, and heroic poetry; major themes including monstrosity and marginality, patronage and literary politics, manuscript studies and vernacularity are investigated; and there are close readings of key texts, such as Beowulf, Wulf and Eadwacer, and Ancrene Wisse and key authors from Ælfric to Geoffrey Chaucer, Langland, and the Gawain Poet.
After the NOrman conquest, women and the lower classes became the primary audiences for English, as opposed to Latin or French, literature. Among the works written for female audiences are the hitherto neglected AB texts: three female saints' lives, a tract on virginity, a homily, and a guide for anchoresses. In this lucid, innovative study, Elizabeth Robertson shows that the AB texts were written in an effective experiential style that distinguished them from other spiritual works of the period.Key characteristics of this special style--nonteleological structre, pervasive use of concrete imagery, and thematic focus on the female body--have been viewed by some as hallmarks of women's writing more generally. Combining feminist theory with critical skill and an impressive command of Old and Middle English materials, the author argues, to the contrary, that in the thirteenth-century England this style was created by educated male writers in accord with their beliefs about nature and needs of marginal social groups.Beginning with the history and motivations of female anchorites and surveying medieval philosophy and theology in relation to gender theory, this book offers the first comprehensive analysis of the AB texts and then details their debt to earlier English vernacular works and to the continental theological movements that increasingly emphasized physical experience and matter. The result is an exciting, learned account of the feminization of early English prose.
The history of medieval women has been transformed in recent years through the expansion of evidence and the application of innovative and provocative methodologies. The author draws on these research results to emphasize the resilience and achievements of medieval women, whilst recognizing the misogynistic constraints embedded in the structures of medieval society.
A year in the life of a peasant woman in medieval England is vividly evoked in this extraordinary portrait of Marion, a carpenter's wife, and her extended family. Based on years of research, Ann Baer brings to life the reality of a world that has been lost. Rising before dawn in a tiny village to a day of gruelling hard work, Marion and her husband face the daily struggle for survival. Starvation is never far away and travel to the next village is virtually unheard of. Existing without soap, paper or glass and with only the most basic of tools, sickness, fire and natural disaster ever threaten to engulf the small, tightly knit community. At the mercy of the weather and the Lord of the Manor, each equally unpredictable and inescapable, Marion's life is burdensome but also displays an admirable dignity and fortitude in the face of adversity. The little village is at one with the natural world around it and each member has a role to play and a place in the hierarchy. Simple people, living unrecorded lives in remote villages not on the way to anywhere are brought back into focus in Medieval Woman. Ann Baer defines and celebrates the woman at the heart of the community. This is a unique approach to history, compressing decades of in-depth research on the Middle Ages into one single, immersive, compelling narrative.
Medieval German fiction contains many dialogues between mothers and daughters and numerous plots about their relationships, although this pattern has not been widely noted in existing scholarship. Even though the authors of these works are either male or anonymous, literature with mother-daughter motifs reveals much about the contradictions of social and sexual conflicts in medieval society.
New Approaches to German and European Women Writers and to Violence Against Women in Premodern Times
Author: Albrecht Classen
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Category: Literary Criticism
The study takes the received view among scholars that women in the Middle Ages were faced with sustained misogyny and that their voices were seldom heard in public and subjects it to a critical analysis. The ten chapters deal with various aspects of the question, and the voices of a variety of authors - both female and male - are heard. The study opens with an enquiry into violence against women, including in texts by male writers (Hartmann von Aue, Gottfried von Straßburg, Wolfram von Eschenbach) which indeed describe instances of violence, but adopt an extremely critical stance towards them. It then proceeds to show how women were able to develop an independent identity in various genres and could present themselves as authorities in the public eye. Mystic texts by Hildegard of Bingen, Marie de France and Margery Kempe, the medieval conduct poem known as Die Winsbeckin, the Devout Books of Sisters composed in convents in South-West Germany, but also quasi-historical documents such as the memoirs of Helene Kottaner or Anna Weckerin's cookery book, demonstrate that far more women were in the public gaze than had hitherto been assumed and that they possessed the self-confidence to establish their positions with their intellectual and their literary achievements.
Through a sensitive use of a wide variety of imaginative and didactic texts, Ruth Karras shows that while prostitutes as individuals were marginalized within medieval culture, prostitution as an institution was central to the medieval understanding of what it meant to be a woman. This important work will be of interest to scholars and students of history, women's studies, and the history of sexuality.
After an extensive introduction that takes stock of the relevant research literature on Old Age in the Middle Ages and the early modern age, the contributors discuss the phenomenon of old age in many different fields of late antique, medieval, and early modern literature, history, and art history. Both Beowulf and the Hildebrandslied, both Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Titurel, both the figure of Merlin and the trans-European tradition of Perceval/Peredur/Parzival, then the figure of the vetula in a variety of medieval French, English, and Spanish texts, and of the Old Man in The Stricker's Daniel, both the treatment of old age in Langland's Piers the Plowman and in Jean Gerson's sermons are dealt with. Other aspects involve late-antique epistolary literature, early modern French farce in light of Disability Studies, the social role of old, impotent men in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Netherlandish paintings, and the scientific discourse of old age and health since the 1500s. The discourse of Old Age proves to have been of central importance throughout the ages, so the critical examination of the issues involved sheds intriguing light on the cultural history from late antiquity to the seventeenth century.
Those interested in both the present day role of woman and its historical evolution will find this work an informative and valuable introduction to the topic. Focusing on the actual position woman held in medieval society and on the surprisingly diverse representations of her position in literature and the visual arts, the six essays collected in this volume reflect concern with the development of her role from classical antiquity and oral, illiterative communities on the one hand, to Renaissance society on the other. Specialists in different fields examine the complexities of topics such as the direct relationship between the longevity of woman and the value society confers upon her; the changing functions of woman in illiterate, pre-literate, and literate society; the sophisticated portrayal of woman in the courtly romances; the implications of mans perception of woman as aesthetic and personal ideal bridging seemingly irreconcilable conflicts; womans conscious assumption of an active role in the political and cultural life of her time; and the often caricatured, yet nonetheless sympathetic portrayal of woman in the margins of gothic manuscripts. The interdisciplinary approach followed in these essays allows the reader interested in a wholistic approach to trace concurrent developments over a long span of time from various perspectives. The approach also invites the attention of specialists in medieval social history, economics, art history, the heroic epic and the courtly romance, Petrarchism, and the transition from late medieval to early French Renaissance literature. The essays represent papers delivered at the Sixth Annual Conference of the Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies on The Role of the Woman in the Middle Ages.