HIST 2013: Gender in Medieval Europe
This course aims: - broadly, to introduce you to the study of gender theory
as applied to medieval culture; - to familiarise you with the development of
gender studies from early attempts at women's history through feminist studies
to a more nuanced study of gender, and on towards a study of masculinity, transgender
identities and sexualities in medieval history; - to train you in the critical
use of medieval sources (in translation), and the variant readings which have
been applied to them by gender historians. Assessment
of the course is detailed on a separate
The main objective, by the end of the course, is that you will have
acquired the ability to read medieval sources with a gendered lens, and to
recognise and critique the historiography which does so. Gender history is a
highly politicised arena, particularly medieval gender history, and the course
will have wider outcomes in demonstrating more clearly than usual to you that
little historical writing is 'neutral' or 'objective'.
Course Programme and Reading
The course will consist of one lecture (Tuesdays, 11.55, room 1143), one tutorial
(in small groups in my room, to be arranged at the first lecture), and one whole-class
seminar (Wednesdays, 11.00, room 2117) per week. Attendance at the tutorial
and seminar are mandatory, and failure to attend without good reason may lead
to your exclusion from the course.
Two key source-books will be used: Emilie Amt, Women's Lives in Medieval
Europe (Routledge, 1993), and Caroline Larrington, Women and Writing
in Medieval Europe (Routledge, 1995). Merry Wiesner, Gender in History
(Blackwell, 2001) will be used as a core textbook. Pauline Stafford and Anneke
Mulder-Bakker, eds, Gendering the Middle Ages (Blackwell, 2001), will
be frequently referred to. It is expected that you complete all the key reading
listed under each week's topic; further reading and suggested essay titles are
contained in the separate, essay
list now available.
Summary Course Programme
- Week 1 Introduction - why gender?
- Week 2 Early work on medieval women
- Week 3 Norms and exceptions: the problem of 'great
- Week 4 Feminism and the rediscovery of medieval women
- Week 5 Giving her a voice: reading medieval women authors
- Week 6 Refining the models: the emergence of gender
- Week 7 Reading and consultation week
- Week 8 'Redressing the balance' ?: medieval masculinity
- Week 9 Beyond the binary divide: clerics, eunuchs and
- Week 10 Challenging the heterosexual paradigm: queering
the middle ages
- Week 11 Revision and essay consultation week
- Week 12: Assessed essay deadline is Monday 12 January this week,
so no classes, but we may also have a special event with outside speakers
to help with exam revision.
Useful Web-based Resources
The Internet Medieval
Sourcebook is a major resource including a good section on women, although
beware of links to Millersville, which no longer seem to work! The Labyrinth
is another major online resource for medieval history and literature. During
this course you will be asked to identify your own source materials for some
seminars and tutorials: the course textbooks and these two resources are obvious
Course Programme and Bibliography
Each week's theme will be reviewed in the following week's Monday seminar.
Items marked SL are currently only available in my Avenue Short Loan tutor boxes
under the course code HIST 2013. Copies of other items of key reading which
are available elsewhere in the library will be added gradually as the course
Week 1 Introduction - why gender?
Lecture 1: Why do we need to 'gender' medieval Europe? Key reading:
Joan Kelly, 'Did women have a Renaissance?', in her book Women, History and
Theory (Chicago, 1984) [essay first published in 1977]SL.
Seminar 1: Labels and Identities In this seminar we compare a wide
range of medieval texts, and decide how they might be used for the different
types of medieval history-writing outlined in lecture 1. Key reading: Merry
Wiesner-Hanks, Gender in History (Oxford, 2001), Introduction.
Tutorials: Different types of medieval source: how can they be gendered?
(Readings will be distributed in Lecture 1.)
Week 2 Early work on medieval women
Lecture 2: Early work on medieval women
Seminar 2: Writing a history of women and writing women's history: what
roles for women did early authors identify? Key reading: Eileen Power, 'The
position of women in the middle ages', in C. G. Crump and E. F. Jacob, eds,
The Legacy of the Middle Ages (1926), M. K. Dale, 'The London silkwomen
of the 15th century', Economic History Review, 1st series, 4 (1933),
reprinted with preceding commentary by M. Kowaleski and J. Bennett, 'Crafts,
guilds and women in the middle ages: fifty years after Marian K. Dale', in J.
Bennett et al., eds, Sisters and Workers in the Middle Ages (Chicago,
1989), pp. 11-38; Georgina Buckler, Anna Comnena: a Study (Oxford, 1929,
repr. 2000), pp. 3-10 and 27-61SL
Tutorials: History of women and women's history: what's the difference?
We compare the texts studied in the tutorials with a recent, excellent piece
of women's history-writing. Key reading: Julia H. M. Smith, 'Did women have
a transformation of the Roman world?' Gender and History, 12 (2000),
552-71 [reprinted in Stafford and Mulder-Bakker, Gendering the Middle Ages].
Week 3 Norms and exceptions: the problem of 'great
Lecture 3: Norms and exceptions: the problem of 'great women'
Seminar: Norms and exceptions: Anglo-Saxon England as a case study
(Readings will be distributed in Lecture 3) [Group 1: legal material pre 1000;
Group 2: laws post 1000; Group 3: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle]
Tutorials: How are women recorded in medieval sources? Are they always
'great women'? Key reading: Wiesner-Hanks, 'Ideas, Ideals, Norms and Laws'
and 'Religion', in Gender in History; Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, 'The
medievalist: women and the serial approach', in Michelle Perrot, ed., Writing
Women's History (Oxford 1992), pp. 25-33.
Week 4 Feminism and the rediscovery of medieval women
Lecture 4: Identifying 'patriarchy' Key readings: Joan Kelly, 'Early
feminist theory and the querelle des femmes, 1400-1789', Signs, 8 (1982),
reprinted in fuller version in her Women History and Theory (Chicago,
1984)SL; E. Fox-Genovese, 'Placing women's history in history', New Left
Review, 133 (May/June 1982)
Seminar 4: Applying patriarchy: Lerner and Bennett critique medieval culture
Key readings: Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (Oxford, 1986),
chapter 11; Judith Bennett, 'Feminism and history', Gender and History,
1 (1989), 251-272; Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness from
the Middle Ages to 1870 (1993), chapter 1; Judith Bennett, 'Theoretical
issues: confronting continuity', Journal of Women's History, 9 (1997),
Tutorials: Illustrating patriarchy. Using the features outlined in
this week's lecture, you will be asked to find a short medieval text which embodies
one or more of these features. You will find a list of sourcebooks and websites
to use at the bottom of the essay
Week 5 Giving her a voice: reading medieval women
Lecture 5: What is a 'woman author' in medieval Europe? Key reading:
Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness from the Middle Ages
to 1870 (Oxford, 1993), chapters 2 and 3; Wiesner-Hanks, 'Education and
culture', in Gender in History.
Seminar 5: Women's writing: a stage in the life-cycle? Key Reading:
Anneke B. Mulder-Bakker, 'The metamorphosis of woman: transmission of knowledge
and the problems of gender', Gender and History, 12 (2000), 642-664 [reprinted
in Stafford and Mulder-Bakker, eds, Gendering the Middle Ages]
Tutorial: Gaining access to written culture Another source hunt: find
a short excerpt by a woman, and come prepared to discuss how she might have
been able to leave her voice to posterity. Group 1: pre 900; group 2: 900-1200;
group 3: post-1200. You will find a list of sourcebooks and websites to use
at the bottom of the essay
Week 6 Refining the models: the emergence of gender
Lecture 6: Women's history to gender history: origins and debates Key
readings: Introduction to Gender and History, volume 1 (handout); Judith
Bennett, 'Medievalism and feminism', Speculum, 68 (1993), 309-331; Arlette
Farge, 'Method and effects of women's history', in Michelle Perrot, ed., Writing
Women's History (Oxford, 1992), pp. 10-24.
Seminar 6 Women's history and gender history: is there a recognisable difference?
Key readings: Gisela Bock, 'Women's history and gender history: aspects of an
international debate', Gender and History, 1 (1989); Pauline Stafford
and Anneke Mulder-Bakker, eds, Gendering the Middle Ages (Oxford, 2001),
Introduction (= Gender and History, 12 no. 3, 2000)
Tutorials: Working with a source you have already met, how can you
read it in a gendered way?
Week 7 Reading and essay consultation week: please sign up for an individual
consultation on my door
Week 8 Redressing the balance? medieval masculinity
Lecture 7 What is medieval masculinity? Key reading: Clare A. Lees,
ed., Medieval Masculinities: Regarding Men in Medieval Europe (1994),
preface and introduction; Wiesner-Hanks, 'Political life', in Gender in History
Seminar 7 Masculinity in action: the problems of being a man in the middle
ages. Key reading: Asser's Life of Alfred in Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge,
eds, Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and other Contemporary
Sources (London, 1983); J. L. Nelson, Monks, secular men and masculinity'
(on Alfred and other aristocratic young men), in D. M. Hadley (ed), Masculinity
in Medieval Europe (London, 1999), 121-142; Peter Abelard, Historia
calamitatum', in The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, tr. Betty Radice
(London, 1974); also in the Internet Medieval Sourcebook http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook.html
under Intellectual Life; Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Bonnie Wheeler, eds, Becoming
Male in the Middle Ages (New York, 2000), chapters by Wheeler and Ferroul;
Michael T. Clanchy, Abelard, a Medieval Life (1997); Gregorio Dati's
Diary, excerpted in Patrick Geary, Readings in Medieval History (distributed
as handout); Susan Mosher Stuard, The burdens of matrimony: husbanding
and gender in medieval Italy', in Clare A. Lees, ed., Medieval Masculinities
(Minneapolis, 1994), 61-71.
Tutorials: Masculine roles, masculine materials - find other examples of men
who did not live up to the expectations of their gender and/or class. You will
find a list of sourcebooks and websites to use at the bottom of the essay
Week 9 Beyond the binary divide: virgins, clerics,
eunuchs and cross-dressing
Lecture 8: The binary divide and challenges to it Key reading: Allen
J. Frantzen, 'When women aren't enough', Speculum, 68 (1993), 445-471.
Seminar 8: Third sex or third gender? Key reading: Wiesner-Hanks, 'Sexuality',
in Gender in History; Nancy F. Partner, 'No sex, no gender', Speculum,
68 (1993), 419-443.
Tutorials: Ambiguous persons Group 1 Eunuchs: Shaun Tougher, 'Images
of effeminate men: the case of Byzantine eunuchs', in D. M. Hadley, ed., Masculinity
in Medieval Europe (London, 1999), 89-100; Group 2 Clergy: Robert Swanson,
'Angels incarnate: clergy and masculinity from Gregorian reform to Reformation',
in D. M. Hadley, ed., Masculinity in Medieval Europe (London, 1999)]
Week 10 Challenging the heterosexual paradigm: queering
the middle ages
Lecture 9: Where did the queer middle ages come from?
Seminar 9: Reactions to a gay middle ages Key readings: Martin Duberman,
Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, eds, Hidden from History: Reclaiming
the Gay and Lesbian Past (New York, 1989), Introduction and chapter by John
Boswell, 'Revolutions, universals and sexual categories'; Hadley, ed., Masculinity
in Medieval Europe, chapters by Ailes and Haseldine; F. Canadé Sautman
and Pamela Sheingorn, eds, Same-Sex Love and Desire among Women in the Middle
Ages (London, 2001), Introduction.
Tutorials: Another source hunt, this time on the LGBT section of the Internet
Medieval Sourcebook: bring a source to class and discuss why you think it has
been categorised as evidence of the gay, lesbian, bi- or trans-sexual Middle
Week 11 REVISION CLASS TUESDAY, ESSAY SURGERY WEDNESDAY,
REVISION IN TUTORIALS. This week should be used to review your notes and sort
out any questions you may have. Essay surgery will be by sign-up on my door.
Week 12 ESSAY DEADLINE 12 JANUARY; EXAM REVISION CLASS
TUESDAY, OTHER SESSIONS TO BE ARRANGED.
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