A Medieval Woman's Companion [Paperback]

Susan Signe Morrison (Author)

ISBN: 9781785700798 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2015 | Language: English 176p, H210 x W148 (mm) black/white illustrations

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A Medieval Woman's Companion


What have a deaf nun, the mother of the first baby born to Europeans in North America, and a condemned heretic to do with one another? They are among the virtuous virgins, marvellous maidens, and fierce feminists of the Middle Ages who trail-blazed paths for women today. Without those first courageous souls who worked in fields dominated by men, women might not have the presence they currently do in professions such as education, the law, and literature.

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. Short biographies of 20 medieval women illustrate how they have anticipated and shaped current concerns, including access to education; creative emotional outlets such as art, theatre, romantic fiction, and music; marriage and marital rights; fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, contraception and gynecology; sex trafficing and sexual violence; the balance of work and family; faith; and disability. Their legacy abides until today in attitudes to contemporary women that have their roots in the medieval period. The final chapter suggests how 20th and 21st century feminist and gender theories can be applied to and complicated by medieval women's lives and writings.

Doubly marginalised due to gender and the remoteness of the time period, medieval women’s accomplishments are acknowledged and presented in a way that readers can appreciate and find inspiring. Ideal for high school and college classroom use in courses ranging from history and literature to women's and gender studies, an accompanying website with educational links, images, downloadable curriculum guide, and interactive blog will be made available at the time of publication.

Table of Contents

1.Gudrun Osvifsdottir:  Viking Vixen
2. Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir: Fearless Explorer
3. Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: First Woman Playwright
4. Anglo-Saxon and Norman Women:  Political Power Dynasties and Steadfast Sovereigns
Emma of Normandy; St. Margaret of Scotland; Matilda of Scotland
5. The Importance of Language
6. St. Christina of Markyate: Resolute Virgin
7. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Cougar
8. Margaret of Beverley: Fighting Crusader
9. Anna Komnene: Dutiful Daughter
10. Understanding the Female Body:  Misogyny and Sympathy
11. Trota of Salerno: Compassionate Physician
12. Hildegard von Bingen: Audacious Innovator
13. Heloise d’Argenteuil: Scandalous Nun
14. Marie de France: Rhyming Romancer
15. Women Troubadours/Trobairitz: Clever Composers
16. Marguerite Porete: Heroic Heretic
17. St. Birgitta of Sweden: Righteous Reformer
18. Margery Kempe: Peerless Pilgrim
19. Christine de Pizan: Vocal Feminist
20. Joan of Arc: Savior of France
21. Textile Concerns: Holy Transvestites and the Dangers of Cross-Dressing
22. Teresa de Cartagena: Foremother of Deaf Culture
23. Margaret Paston: Matchless Matriarch
24: Looking Forward: Contemporary Feminist Theory and Medieval Women
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources

Reviews & Quotes

"...a wonderfully illustrated and pleasant read, touring its audience through short biographies of notable women of the Christian, European Middle Ages while simultaneously providing context and historical overview… Morrison succeeds in her project to present an accessible and relevant group of medieval women to her audience… The book as a whole provides a friendly, accessible user experience."
Mary Dockray-Miller
Medieval Review (17/10/2017)

"If you’re writing about medieval women or teaching medieval history or literature, this book is an essential. What a resource!"
Candace Robb

"Morrison does a superb job of making medieval women accessible to mainstream audiences, and tying in traditional and digital sources."
Sandra Alvarez
Medieval Magazine (13/03/2017)

"A Medieval Woman's Companion is—I'm not exaggerating here—the best introduction I know of to the widely-varied lives of medieval women. "

Story Circle Reviews

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