Hrotsvit was the first dramatist of Christianity, the first female Saxon poet, the first Germanic author to employ the Faust theme, and one of the first Western writers to compose a Christian epic. The essays in Hrotsvit of Gandersheim examine the historical, cultural, legal, and political contexts of Hrotsvit's works, locating her opus within the tenth-century aristocratic and clerical intellectual milieu. This collection contextualizes Hrotsvit's works with respect to heroic, sexual, domestic, behavioural, linguistic, theological, and hierarchical aspects of early medieval and patristic literary traditions. It also explores other literary texts that inform Hrotsvit's works and discusses the performance history and theatricality of Hrotsvit's plays. Hrotsvit's keen awareness of contemporary issues and her determination, within the parameters of monastic-aristocratic ideological constraints, to provide her readers with a rich variety of exemplary female heroes and acts of personal courage, offer twenty-first-century readers a powerful model of responsibility and agency.
Phyllis R. Brown is an associate professor in the Department of English at Santa Clara University. Linda A. McMillin is a professor in the Department of History at Susquehanna University. Katharina M. Wilson is a professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia.