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.
Susan Signe Morrison, Professor of English, was designated Women's and Gender Studies Outstanding Faculty Scholar (2014) at Texas State University. Her research interests focus on gender studies in the Middle Ages, and include Anglo-Saxon and comparative medieval literature. Author of the first book on medieval women pilgrims, she is the author of a novel, Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife, a feminist revision of the Old English epic, Beowulf.
Introduction Part I: PIONEERS 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 Part II: FEARLESS FEMALES 6. St. Christina of Markyate: Resolute Virgin 7. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Cougar 8. Margaret of Beverley: Fighting Crusader Part III: WOMEN OF WISDOM 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 Part IV: NON-CONFORMISTS 15. Women Troubadours/Trobairitz: Clever Composers 16. Marguerite Porete: Heroic Heretic 17. St. Birgitta of Sweden: Righteous Reformer 18. Margery Kempe: Peerless Pilgrim Part V: "MOST HONORED LADIES" 19. Christine de Pizan: Vocal Feminist 20. Joan of Arc: Savior of France 21. Textile Concerns: Holy Transvestites and the Dangers of Cross-Dressing Part VI: "EXPERIENCE IS RIGHT ENOUGH FOR ME" 22. Teresa de Cartagena: Foremother of Deaf Culture 23. Margaret Paston: Matchless Matriarch 24: Looking Forward: Contemporary Feminist Theory and Medieval Women Acknowledgements Glossary Bibliography Primary Sources Secondary Sources Websites