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ENGL407: Medieval Women Writers

Unit 1: Medieval Times, Medieval Women   Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Describe the Medieval period in social and historical context.
  • Characterize the intellectual climate of the Middle Ages and explain the significance of the Fall of the Roman Empire on Medieval Britain.
  • Explain the importance of Medieval oral traditions, the rise of literacy, the culture of chivalry and courtly love, Scholasticism, and the Church.
  • Describe the nature of the lives/roles of Medieval wives, virgins, mothers, and lovers.
  • Explain the role of the Medieval woman in terms of property ownership, misogyny, masculinity, feminism, and Medieval concepts of gender and sexuality.

1.1 An Overview of the Middle Ages and Its Intellectual Climate   1.1.1 What Are the Middle Ages?   - Reading: Medieval-Life.Net’s “Medieval European History” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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1.1.2 The Fall of the Roman Empire   - Reading: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “The Roman Withdrawal” Link: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “The Roman Withdrawal”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire chapter on “The Roman Withdrawal” from Muhlberger’s Medieval England.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.3 Legacies of the Oral Tradition   - Reading: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Oral Formulaic” and “Oral Transmission” Link: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Oral Formulaic” and “Oral Transmission”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the definitions of “oral transmission” and “oral formulaic” linked here.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.4 The Rise in Literacy   - Reading: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “Early English Society”; Fordham University’s Internet Medieval History Sourcebook: “Accounts of Medieval Literacy and Education, c. 1090-1530” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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1.1.5 A Culture of Chivalry and Courtly Love   - Reading: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Courtly Love” Link: Carson-Newman College: Dr. L. Kip Wheeler’s “Literary Terms and Definitions”: “Courtly Love”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the definition of “courtly love” linked here.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.6 Scholasticism and Trends in Medieval Thought   - Reading: University of Southern California: Monastic Matrix’s version of Suzanne Fonay Wemple’s "Scholarship in Women’s Communities"; New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on “Scholasticism” Link: University of Southern California: Monastic Matrix’s version of Suzanne Fonay Wemple’s "Scholarship in Women’s Communities" (HTML); New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on"Scholasticism" (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article on “Scholarship in Women’s Communities” hosted on the University of Southern California’s website linked here.  Also, read New Advent’s short encyclopedia entry on “scholasticism.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.7 The Predominance of the Church   - Reading: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “The Conversion of Britain” and “The Age of Bede” Link: The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’version of Steven Muhlberger’s Medieval England: “The Conversion of Britain” (HTML) and “The Age of Bede”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read both chapters, “The Conversion of Britain” and “The Age of Bede,” from the textbook linked here in their entirety.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 An Introduction to Medieval Women: Widows, Wives, and Virgins   - Reading: Clark College: Anita Fisher’s “Women in the Early European Middle Ages” Link: Clark College: Anita Fisher’s “Women in the Early European Middle Ages”(HTML)
 
Instructions:  Please note that in order to access the text you will need to click the link “Women in the Early European Middle Ages” in the right-hand column (“Lecture Texts”) to download the file in either PDF or Word format.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.1 Virginity as the Pre-eminent Virtue for Medieval Women   - Reading: University of Rochester Libraries’ TEAMS: N.M. Heckel’s “Sex, Society, and Medieval Women”: “Sex and Society”; The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Susan Udry’s “Books of Women’s Conduct from France during the High and Late Middle Ages, 1200-1400” Links: University of Rochester Libraries’ TEAMS: N. M. Heckel’s “Sex, Society, and Medieval Women”: “Sex and Society” (HTML); The ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies’ version of Susan Udry’s “Books of Women’s Conduct from France during the High and Late Middle Ages, 1200-1400” (HTML)
 
Instructions: From Heckel’s “Sex, Society, and Medieval Women,” please read the section titled “Sex and Society,” which includes sub-sections titled “Virginity,” “Women and Courtly Love,” and “Prostitution.”  Also, please read Susan Udry’s essay on women’s conduct books linked here, and in particular, please focus on the mention of virginity and incontinence in the discussion of appropriate female behavior.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2 Marriage and Wifely Duties   - Reading: Minnesota State University, Mankato’s EMuseum: “Daily Life”: “Marriage and Divorce” and UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Elizabeth M. Makowski’s “The Conjugal Debt and Medieval Canon Law” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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1.2.3 The Midwife, the Dangers of Childbirth, and Motherhood   - Reading: Minnesota State University, Mankato’s eMuseum: “Daily Life”: “Children and Schooling” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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1.2.4 Women, Land, and Property Ownership   - Reading: University of Houston’s Department of History: Professor Bob Elhone’s English Legal History Materials: “Chapter IV.A. Women and the Law: Dower” Link: University of Houston’s Department of History: Professor Bob Elhone’s English Legal History Materials: “Chapter IV.A. Women and the Law: Dower” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the short excerpt on medieval law codes for more information about women’s property laws, or lack thereof.  In particular, please note the mention of women’s property after marriage.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.5 Misogyny and the Dangerous, Sinful Woman   - Reading: University of Rochester Libraries’ TEAMS: Kathleen Forni’s, ed. “The Antifeminist Tradition: Introduction” and Sunshine for Women: Katherine M. Rogers’ “The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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1.2.6 Concepts of Medieval Masculinity: The Figure of the Chivalrous Courtier and Beyond   - Reading: Georgetown University Labyrinth’s version of Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s “Medieval Masculinities: Heroism, Sanctity, and Gender” Link: Georgetown University Labyrinth’s version of Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s “Medieval Masculinities: Heroism, Sanctity, and Gender”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire article titled “Medieval Masculinities: Heroism, Sanctity, and Gender” linked here.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3 An Introduction to Gender Theories and Feminist Literary Approaches   1.3.1 Literary Feminisms: A Range of Approaches   - Reading: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Introduction: The Body and the Book” Link: UMILITA.net’s version of Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages: Julia Holloway’s “Introduction: The Body and the Book” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the introduction to the online textbook, Equally in God’s Image: Women in the Middle Ages.  To access this essay, scroll past the Table of Contents.
 
Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Julia Bolton Holloway, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

1.3.2 Concepts of Gender & Sexuality   - Reading: Theory.Org.Uk’s “Judith Butler” and Fordham University: Paul Halsall’s “The Experience of Sexuality in the Middle Ages” as well as Georgetown University: Robert L. A. Clark’s and Claire M. Sponsler’s “Queer Play: The Cultural Work of Crossdressing in Medieval Drama” Link: Theory.Org.Uk’s "Judith Butler"(HTML) and Fordham University:  Paul Halsall’s “The Experience of Sexuality in the Middle Ages”(HTML) as well as Georgetown University:  Robert L. A. Clark’s and Claire M. Sponsler’s “Queer Play:  The Cultural Work of Crossdressing in Medieval Drama” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entire entry on Judith Butler linked here.  As you move through the course, please keep Butler’s notion of gender as performance in mind when reading the female-authored texts.  Also, please scroll down and read the entirety of Halsall’s explication of sexuality in the Middle Ages as well as Clark’s and Sponsler’s introduction to the various functions of Medieval gender as revealed by drama of the period.  
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.3 Recent Feminist Scholarship in Medieval Studies   - Reading: University of Windsor: Jacqueline Murray’s "Cultural Studies/Sexual Anxiety: The Confessions of a Medieval(ist)" and Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies: Medieval Studies Catalogue Page’s “New Titles” Link: University of Windsor: Jacqueline Murray’s "Cultural Studies/Sexual Anxiety: The Confessions of a Medieval(ist)"(HTML) and Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies: Medieval Studies Catalogue Page’s “New Titles”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the critical paper linked above for a modern feminist analysis of medieval studies.  Also, please scroll down and read the entirety of Medieval Studies Catalogue Page’s “New Titles” to get a sense of the types of recent scholarship emerging in this area of research.  
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

 The Saylor Foundation does not yet have all materials for this
portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your
content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used
here, please submit it here.  

 [Submit Materials](/contribute/)