Women's Religious Patronage in Early Medieval Europe: Medieval and Modern Connections

AHA Session 233
Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship 5
Sunday, January 9, 2011: 8:30 AM-10:30 AM
Clarendon Room (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Barbara Finan, University of New Hampshire
Karen V. Hansen, Brandeis University

Session Abstract

Scholarship of the last twenty years has revealed the important roles women have played in varieties of medieval cultural production; they were consumers, patrons, and (in some cases) creators of texts, objects, buildings, and other cultural artifacts.  This session's focus on early medieval Europe allows exploration of women's religious patronage in Merovingian Gaul and Anglo-Saxon England, moving back in time from much of the recent work that tends to focus on the High Middle Ages or the later part of the period (see analyses by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Emilie Amt, Bonnie Wheeler, etc. as examples).  The papers address the patronage practiced by historical women as well as the idea of a female figure as patron saint; as such, the session as a whole explores a variety of definitions of  women's "patronage" in early medieval European culture.
In addition, this session attempts to connect some of the current exciting work on medieval women's religious patronage to the interests of historians focused on more modern periods.  Most prominently, Judith Bennett has elucidated the deep divide between historians of the modern and medieval periods (History Matters, 2006); our respondent, a sociologist/historian whose work focuses on 19th- and 20th-century American women, will make some connections between the session papers and current concerns in modern women's historiography.

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