Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages

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Gendering the Master Narrative asks whether a female tradition of power might have existed distinct from the male one, and how such a tradition might have been transmitted. It describes women's progress toward power as a push-pull movement, showing how practices and institutions that ostensibly enabled women in the Middle Ages could sometimes erode their authority as well.This book provides a much-needed theoretical and historical reassessment of medieval women's power. It updates the conclusions from the editors' essential volume on that topic, Women and Power in the Middle Ages, which was published in 1988 and altered the prevailing view of female subservience by correcting the nearly ubiquitous equation of "power" with "public authority." Most scholars now accept a broader definition of power based on the interactions between men and women.In their Introduction, Mary C. Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski survey the directions in which the study of medieval women's agency has developed in the past fifteen years. Like its predecessor, this volume is richly interdisciplinary. It contains essays by highly regarded scholars of history, literature, and art history, and features seventeen black-and-white illustrations and two maps.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Interdisciplinary essays on the exercise and transmission of female power in medieval society."—The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 25, 2003

"By entitling this collection Gendering the Master Narrative, editors Mary C. Erler and Maryanne Kowaleski intend to prepare readers for the fact that the essays supplement the story of men's access to and wielding of power in European Middle Ages with the story of women's."—Conrad Leyser, University of Manchester, American Historical Review, February 2005

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801488306
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: A New Economy of Power Relations: Female Agency in the Middle Ages 1
1 Women and Power through the Family Revisited 17
2 Women and Confession: From Empowerment to Pathology 31
3 "With the Heat of the Hungry Heart": Empowerment and Ancrene Wisse 52
4 Powers of Record, Powers of Example: Hagiography and Women's History 71
5 Who Is the Master of This Narrative? Maternal Patronage of the Cult of St. Margaret 94
6 "The Wise Mother": The Image of St. Anne Teaching the Virgin Mary 105
7 Did Goddesses Empower Women? The Case of Dame Nature 135
8 Women in the Late Medieval English Parish 156
9 Public Exposure? Consorts and Ritual in Late Medieval Europe: The Example of the Entrance of the Dogaresse of Venice 174
10 Women's Influence on the Design of Urban Homes 190
11 Looking Closely: Authority and Intimacy in the Late Medieval Urban Home 212
References 229
Contributors 257
Index 261
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