Medieval Feminist Forum

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Medieval Feminist Forum :

Women

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Arab Women in the Middle Ages : Private Lives and Public Roles

Social Science

Author - Shirley Guthrie
Publisher - Saqi
Pages - 268
ISBN - 0863567649


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Detail - Regardless of social rank and religion, whether Christian, Jew, or Muslim, Arab women in the middle ages played an important role in the functioning of society. This book is a journey into their daily lives, their private spaces and public roles. First we are introduced into the women's sanctuaries, their homes, and what occurs within its realm - marriage and contraception, childbirth and childcare, culinary traditions, body and beauty rituals - providing rare insight into the rites and rituals prevalent among the different communities of the time. These women were also much present in the public arena and made important contributions in the fields of scholarship and the affairs of state. A number of them were benefactresses, poets, calligraphers, teachers and sales women. Others were singing girls, professional mourners, bath-attendants and prostitutes. How these women managed their daily affairs, both personal and professional, defined their roles in the wider spheres of society. Drawing from the Islamic traditions, as well as legal documents, historical sources and popular chronicles of the time, Guthrie's book offers an informative study of an area which remaisn relatively unexplored. 'A useful survey on Arab (mostly Muslim) women's lives in past centuries.' RJAS 'Of greatest use to educators and lecturers looking for diverse and entertaining details of various aspects of medieval Near Eastern social life.' International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 'Reveals a broad understanding of the subject' MESA Bulletin

Women and Gender in Medieval Europe : An Encyclopedia

History

Author - Margaret Schaus
Publisher - Taylor & Francis
Pages - 944
ISBN - 0415969441


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Detail - From women's medicine and the writings of Christine de Pizan to the lives of market and tradeswomen and the idealization of virginity, gender and social status dictated all aspects of women's lives during the middle ages. A cross-disciplinary resource, Women and Gender in Medieval Europe examines the daily reality of medieval women from all walks of life in Europe between 450 CE and 1500 CE, i.e., from the fall of the Roman Empire to the discovery of the Americas. Moving beyond biographies of famous noble women of the middles ages, the scope of this important reference work is vast and provides a comprehensive understanding of medieval women's lives and experiences. Masculinity in the middle ages is also addressed to provide important context for understanding women's roles. Entries that range from 250 words to 4,500 words in length thoroughly explore topics in the following areas: · Art and Architecture · Countries, Realms, and Regions · Daily Life · Documentary Sources · Economics · Education and Learning · Gender and Sexuality · Historiography · Law · Literature · Medicine and Science · Music and Dance · Persons · Philosophy · Politics · Political Figures · Religion and Theology · Religious Figures · Social Organization and Status Written by renowned international scholars, Women and Gender in Medieval Europe is the latest in the Routledge Encyclopedias of the Middle Ages. Easily accessible in an A-to-Z format, students, researchers, and scholars will find this outstanding reference work to be an invaluable resource on women in Medieval Europe.

Discerning Spirits : Divine and Demonic Possession in the Middle Ages

History

Author - Nancy Caciola
Publisher - Cornell University Press
Pages - 352
ISBN - 9780801473340


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Detail - Trance states, prophesying, convulsions, fasting, and other physical manifestations were often regarded as signs that a person was seized by spirits. In a book that sets out the prehistory of the early modern European witch craze, Nancy Caciola shows how medieval people decided whom to venerate as a saint infused with the spirit of God and whom to avoid as a demoniac possessed of an unclean spirit. This process of discrimination, known as the discernment of spirits, was central to the religious culture of Western Europe between 1200 and 1500. Since the outward manifestations of benign and malign possession were indistinguishable, a highly ambiguous set of bodily features and behaviors were carefully scrutinized by observers. Attempts to make decisions about individuals who exhibited supernatural powers were complicated by the fact that the most intense exemplars of lay spirituality were women, and the "fragile sex" was deemed especially vulnerable to the snares of the devil. Assessments of women's spirit possessions often oscillated between divine and demonic interpretations. Ultimately, although a few late medieval women visionaries achieved the prestige of canonization, many more were accused of possession by demons. Caciola analyzes a broad array of sources from saints' lives to medical treatises, exorcists' manuals to miracle accounts, to find that observers came to rely on the discernment of bodies rather than seeking to distinguish between divine and demonic possession in purely spiritual terms.

Medieval Feminist Newsletter :

Feminist theory

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Byzantium : The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire

History

Author - Judith Herrin
Publisher - Princeton University Press
Pages - 416
ISBN - 140083273X


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Detail - Byzantium. The name evokes grandeur and exoticism--gold, cunning, and complexity. In this unique book, Judith Herrin unveils the riches of a quite different civilization. Avoiding a standard chronological account of the Byzantine Empire's millennium--long history, she identifies the fundamental questions about Byzantium--what it was, and what special significance it holds for us today. Bringing the latest scholarship to a general audience in accessible prose, Herrin focuses each short chapter around a representative theme, event, monument, or historical figure, and examines it within the full sweep of Byzantine history--from the foundation of Constantinople, the magnificent capital city built by Constantine the Great, to its capture by the Ottoman Turks. She argues that Byzantium's crucial role as the eastern defender of Christendom against Muslim expansion during the early Middle Ages made Europe--and the modern Western world--possible. Herrin captivates us with her discussions of all facets of Byzantine culture and society. She walks us through the complex ceremonies of the imperial court. She describes the transcendent beauty and power of the church of Hagia Sophia, as well as chariot races, monastic spirituality, diplomacy, and literature. She reveals the fascinating worlds of military usurpers and ascetics, eunuchs and courtesans, and artisans who fashioned the silks, icons, ivories, and mosaics so readily associated with Byzantine art. An innovative history written by one of our foremost scholars, Byzantium reveals this great civilization's rise to military and cultural supremacy, its spectacular destruction by the Fourth Crusade, and its revival and final conquest in 1453.

Women in Medieval Iberia : A Selected Bibliography

Women

Author - Rafael M Mérida
Publisher -
Pages - 68
ISBN -


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History Matters : Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism

History

Author - Judith M. Bennett
Publisher - University of Pennsylvania Press
Pages - 224
ISBN - 9780812200553


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Detail - Written for everyone interested in women's and gender history, History Matters reaffirms the importance to feminist theory and activism of long-term historical perspectives. Judith M. Bennett, who has been commenting on developments in women's and gender history since the 1980s, argues that the achievement of a more feminist future relies on a rich, plausible, and well-informed knowledge of the past, and she asks her readers to consider what sorts of feminist history can best advance the struggles of the twenty-first century. Bennett takes as her central problem the growing chasm between feminism and history. Closely allied in the 1970s, each has now moved away from the other. Seeking to narrow this gap, Bennett proposes that feminist historians turn their attention to the intellectual challenges posed by the persistence of patriarchy. She posits a "patriarchal equilibrium" whereby, despite many changes in women's experiences over past centuries, women's status vis-à-vis that of men has remained remarkably unchanged. Although, for example, women today find employment in occupations unimaginable to medieval women, medieval and modern women have both encountered the same wage gap, earning on average only three-fourths of the wages earned by men. Bennett argues that the theoretical challenge posed by this patriarchal equilibrium will be best met by long-term historical perspectives that reach back well before the modern era. In chapters focused on women's work and lesbian sexuality, Bennett demonstrates the contemporary relevance of the distant past to feminist theory and politics. She concludes with a chapter that adds a new twist—the challenges of textbooks and classrooms—to viewing women's history from a distance and with feminist intent. A new manifesto, History Matters engages forthrightly with the challenges faced by feminist historians today. It argues for the radical potential of a history that is focused on feminist issues, aware of the distant past, attentive to continuities over time, and alert to the workings of patriarchal power.

Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society :

History

Author - Yossef Rapoport
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Pages -
ISBN - 9781139444811


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Detail - High rates of divorce, often taken to be a modern and western phenomenon, were also typical of medieval Islamic societies. By pitting these high rates of divorce against the Islamic ideal of marriage,Yossef Rapoport radically challenges usual assumptions about the legal inferiority of Muslim women and their economic dependence on men. He argues that marriages in late medieval Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem had little in common with the patriarchal models advocated by jurists and moralists. The transmission of dowries, women's access to waged labour, and the strict separation of property between spouses made divorce easy and normative, initiated by wives as often as by their husbands. This carefully researched work of social history is interwoven with intimate accounts of individual medieval lives, making for a truly compelling read. It will be of interest to scholars of all disciplines concerned with the history of women and gender in Islam.

Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book : Gender and the Making of Textual Authority

Literary Criticism

Author - Sara S. Poor
Publisher - University of Pennsylvania Press
Pages - 333
ISBN - 0812238028


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Detail - Sometime around 1230, a young woman left her family and traveled to the German city of Magdeburg to devote herself to worship and religious contemplation. Rather than living in a community of holy women, she chose isolation, claiming that this life would bring her closer to God. Even in her lifetime, Mechthild of Magdeburg gained some renown for her extraordinary book of mystical revelations, The Flowing Light of the Godhead, the first such work in the German vernacular. Yet her writings dropped into obscurity after her death, many assume because of her gender. In Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book, Sara S. Poor seeks to explain this fate by considering Mechthild's own view of female authorship, the significance of her choice to write in the vernacular, and the continued, if submerged, presence of her writings in a variety of contexts from the thirteenth through the nineteenth century. Rather than explaining Mechthild's absence from literary canons, Poor's close examination of medieval and early modern religious literature and of contemporary scholarly writing reveals her subject's shifting importance in a number of differently defined traditions, high and low, Latin and vernacular, male- and female-centered. While gender is often a significant factor in this history, Poor demonstrates that it is rarely the only one. Her book thus corrects late twentieth-century arguments about women writers and canon reform that often rest on inadequate notions of exclusion. Mechthild of Magdeburg and Her Book offers new insights into medieval vernacular mysticism, late medieval women's roles in the production of culture, and the construction of modern literary traditions.

The Bride of Christ Goes to Hell : Metaphor and Embodiment in the Lives of Pious Women, 200-1500

History

Author - Dyan Elliott
Publisher - University of Pennsylvania Press
Pages - 480
ISBN - 0812206932


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Detail - The early Christian writer Tertullian first applied the epithet "bride of Christ" to the uppity virgins of Carthage as a means of enforcing female obedience. Henceforth, the virgin as Christ's spouse was expected to manifest matronly modesty and due submission, hobbling virginity's ancient capacity to destabilize gender roles. In the early Middle Ages, the focus on virginity and the attendant anxiety over its possible loss reinforced the emphasis on claustration in female religious communities, while also profoundly disparaging the nonvirginal members of a given community. With the rising importance of intentionality in determining a person's spiritual profile in the high Middle Ages, the title of bride could be applied and appropriated to laywomen who were nonvirgins as well. Such instances of democratization coincided with the rise of bridal mysticism and a progressive somatization of female spirituality. These factors helped cultivate an increasingly literal and eroticized discourse: women began to undergo mystical enactments of their union with Christ, including ecstatic consummations and vivid phantom pregnancies. Female mystics also became increasingly intimate with their confessors and other clerical confidants, who were sometimes represented as stand-ins for the celestial bridegroom. The dramatic merging of the spiritual and physical in female expressions of religiosity made church authorities fearful, an anxiety that would coalesce around the figure of the witch and her carnal induction into the Sabbath.

Representing Medieval Genders and Sexualities in Europe : Construction, Transformation, and Subversion, 600–1530

Social Science

Author - Dr Alison More, Dr Elizabeth L'Estrange
Publisher - Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Pages - 218
ISBN - 1409486885


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Detail - Transcending both academic disciplines and traditional categories of analysis, this collection illustrates the ways genders and sexualities could be constructed, subverted and transformed. Focusing on areas such as literature, hagiography, history, and art history, from the Anglo-Saxon period to the early sixteenth century, the contributors examine the ways men and women lived, negotiated, and challenged prevailing conceptions of gender and sexual identity. In particular, their papers explore textual constructions and transformations of religious and secular masculinities and femininities; visual subversions of gender roles; gender and the exercise of power; and the role sexuality plays in the creation of gender identity. The methodologies which are used in this volume are relevant both to specialists of the Middle Ages and early modern periods, and to scholars working more broadly in fields that draw on contemporary gender studies.