Medieval Thoughts…

1. Issues of gender and medieval art are complicated by a number of factors, for example the silence of sources except for those that record the artistic activities of women  of noble birth.  What do we know about  women as patrons and how does that picture change during the course of the medieval period (for example, when is the heyday of royal patronage?  Blanche of Castile? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Marguerite of Burgundy?)

2.  Women artists, both religious and secular, were particularly involved in the production of books during the Middle Ages (Dorothy Miner, “Anastaise and her Sisters”).

3.  What was the contribution of Ende and Emetrius, her assistant?

4.  What were the contributions of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1196)?   Does her international (read: celebrity!) status surprise you?  Herrad of Landsberg, Abbess of Hohenbourg/Mount St. Odile in Alsace (1117-1197)?

5.  What do we know about “opus anglicanum?”

6.  What role do women play (if any) in the production of the Bayeux tapestry?  Are women portrayed in the embroidered narrative, and if so, how?

7.  We have already discussed the gender issues that accompanied the cura monialium and the evolution of the nuns’ liturgical space.  Do you think the ancillary architectural spaces of the monastery were affected by gender considerations, for example the dormitory, the cloister, etc.?

8.  Christine de Pisan wrote in defense of women.  What do you know about the Cite des dames?

9.  Finally, how did the social mores of medieval Europe affect women’s ability to produce artistic work?

10.  What can we learn about their skills and knowledge in examining the work that is extant from this period?


2 responses

  1. I was really interested in the discussion of female humility. One thinks of humility as a “Christian” virtue, more than a womanly virtue. I was especially interested in Hrotsvit of Ganderscheim. How were her plays received. How is female humility different from a masculine humility?

  2. Hildegard of Bingen’s ‘celebrity’ status certainly surprised me! Aside from the fact that I tend to forget that celebrities existed before People Magazine and US Weekly, I was surprised by the wide influence that she had, especially through her correspondence. I was also pretty shocked that she was officially Church approved.

    I really appreciated Chadwick’s differentiating of “the pathological basis of [Hildegard’s] visions and their intellectual content and spiritual import.” In an early British literature class that I took, we read the writings of a female mystic. The class got sidetracked into debating whether or not the writer was insane, had a medical condition or was actually experiencing divine intervention. That seemed to me not only somewhat off topic, but a way of dismissing or diminishing the importance of the text and accomplishment of the writer.

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